LOVE VERSUS LAW
Most of us are well aware of the commandment given to us to love. In Deuteronomy 6:5, God shares with His people:
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Jesus expands upon the love that is required for God when He was asked one day, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus responds in Mark 12:29-31:
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Notice that Jesus does two things here. First, He answers the scribe’s question about the first commandment by referring back to Deuteronomy Chapter 6. Then, Jesus provides additional information as He gives the scribe the second commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The 10 Commandments are divided into two parts. The first four commandments govern our relationship with God, and the remaining six commandments govern our relationship with each other. Jesus simplifies the 10 Commandments by saying, “Love God with everything that you have within you, and love each other as you love yourself.” If we do this, we will keep the 10 Commandments.
Additionally, Jesus presses the limits of love to an even deeper level. In John 13:34, Jesus establishes that He is now the standard by which we determine if we love or not. Clearly, the standard of how I love myself is insufficient. Jesus is the standard:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Far too often, we permit the honoring of rules, regulations, traditions and rituals to justify our not loving that way that we are required – the way that Jesus loves us. This is especially true when we are seeking to apply the Law of God. We can become so self-righteous, that we see the law through the lens of legalism and not through the lens of love.
Yes, the law is necessary. Paul encourages in Romans 7:7, “…I would not have known sin except through the law…” However, as the law is necessary to reveal bondage to sin, love is necessary to release the bondage to sin.
I encourage you to begin practicing love over law. Jesus made it very clear that all of us have the challenge of sin in our lives – none of us are perfect. However, working together, praying together, supporting together, we all can grow to where we desire to be.