God’s Law of Love
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An expert in the law tested Jesus with this question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”—Matthew 22:35–401
Jesus defined the “Law of Love” in general terms in this important passage in the New Testament. He expressed it another time in His famous “Golden Rule”: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”2 The apostle Paul echoed this principle when he wrote, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”3 These biblical passages express the heart and soul of God’s laws and should guide all our actions and interaction with others.
Loving God first and foremost and loving others result in the ultimate fulfillment and completion of biblical law, including the Ten Commandments. If we as Christians love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves, we will naturally fulfill the spirit of all the other laws. For example, we won’t put other gods before Him or take His name in vain. To love our neighbors as ourselves precludes murdering them, stealing from them, lying to them, or coveting what they have.
The motivation for us—as Christians—to obey these commandments should not be out of a fear of divine judgment, but rather because we are compelled by our love for God and others to exhibit consideration and kindness to our neighbors. We refrain from activities forbidden by the Ten Commandments because they would not be in accordance with our love for God and others.
In many ways, God’s Law of Love requires a stricter code of conduct than the Mosaic law. The Ten Commandments, the central tenets of the Mosaic law, stated that people were expected to act justly and righteously, but under Jesus’ Law of Love, much more is required of humankind—sacrificial love and mercy.
This godly love is a much higher ideal to aspire to than mere religious righteousness. In fact, Jesus’ law is so much more difficult to keep as to render it humanly impossible without divine help. Jesus told His disciples, “Without Me, you can do nothing,”4 while on the other hand Paul also tells us we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us.5—The Family International
The Golden Rule
Generally speaking, the Law of Love is the godly principle by which our entire lives, as Christians, should be governed. Jesus summed it up very simply in the famous “Golden Rule,” giving us the key to our relationships with others: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Meaning that loving your neighbor as yourself fulfills God’s laws. Such love is the “law and the prophets.”6) This loving principle should guide all of our actions with others.
“Love does no harm to a neighbor,”7 for “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”8 This is God’s Law of Love! This Law of Love that Jesus proclaimed—loving God first and loving others as yourself—fulfills all the other biblical law. This new commandment, based on the Lord’s instruction to govern ourselves by loving God above all and our neighbors as ourselves, is the whole concept of the Law of Love in a nutshell. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”9
The Law of Love is the guiding principle of our lives; it’s what everything we do should be based on. We should strive to walk in love in all that we do; love should be the main motivating factor in our every action, and our love should be manifested in tangible actions and deeds. If we don’t, how can God’s love dwell in us?10
Sacrificial love is the foundation of the Law of Love. In order to truly live Jesus’ Law of Love, it’s imperative that we grasp the essence of it, that we understand the heart and spirit of the Law of Love. The essence of the Law of Love is having enough love to do to others what you would want them to do to you; to have enough love to help those in need, to put the needs of others above your own, even when it’s a sacrifice for you to do so. That’s love.
This is what the Law of Love is all about—giving love, in deed and in truth, to those in need. That is why the Law of Love is the cornerstone of our beliefs, the basis of our whole way of life. It starts with awareness of the needs that people have, such as the need for friendship, understanding, support, respect, and the need to be listened to and to feel needed and important.
It’s no easy task to live Jesus’ commandments of love. To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind, to love others as ourselves, and to lay down our lives for the brethren, all require living a life of self-sacrifice. It means putting Jesus first, others next, and ourselves last. Doing so goes against the natural man, against human nature. To have this kind of love, the love that causes you to lay down your life for your brethren, which causes you to die daily through dying to yourself and living for others, requires the supernatural love of God.
Living God’s Law of Love means consistently thinking of others and serving them. That’s a tall order! It’s so easy to be lazy, selfish, and self-centered; most of us are that way naturally. Our first reactions are usually about ourselves, what we want, what will make us happy. But if we ask the Lord to help us and we put forth a genuine effort, we can develop new habits and reactions, which, with time, will help us to become more loving, caring, sacrificial individuals.
The Lord will give you the strength, the grace, and the power to give of yourself to others, to put the needs of others before your own, if you ask Him, if you let Him fill you with His Spirit, if you give your life to Him. You can’t do it, but Jesus can! And He will, if you let Him!—Maria Fontaine
The sacrificial love of God
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” “This commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments.” “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”11
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” “Hereby perceive we the love of God: because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” “Love one another as I have loved you. … By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples.”12
If we have real love, we can’t face a needy situation without doing something about it. We can’t just pass by the poor man on the road to Jericho. We must take action like the Samaritan did.13 Compassion must be put into action! That’s the difference between pity and compassion: Pity just feels sorry; compassion does something about it.
We must demonstrate our faith by our works, and love can seldom be proven without tangible manifestation in action. To say you love someone and yet not try to help them physically in whatever way they may need—food, clothing, shelter—this is not love! True, the need for real love is a spiritual need, but it must also be manifested physically in works—“faith which worketh by love.”14
For “whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”15
However, the greatest manifestation of love is not the mere sharing of material things, but the sharing of ourselves and our personal services for others, which is our faith, and which results in our works and the sharing of our material possessions. Jesus Himself had nothing material to share with His disciples, only His love and His life, which He gave for them and for us, that we too might have life and love forever!
Are you willing to give till it hurts, even until it hurts you? Jesus did; He gave His life. God did; He gave His Son. David gave until it hurt. He said, “I will not give unto the Lord of that which hath cost me nothing.”16—David Brandt Berg
Published on Anchor October 2017. Read by Jerry Paladino.
Music by Michael Dooley.
2 Matthew 7:12.
3 Galatians 5:14.
4 John 15:5 NKJV.
5 Philippians 4:13 NKJV.
6 Matthew 7:12 ESV.
7 Romans 13:10 NIV.
8 Matthew 22:39.
9 John 13:34 ESV.
10 See 1 John 3:17–18.
11 1 John 4:11, 21; 1 John 5:2; John 15:12.
12 John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; John 15:13; John 13:34–35.
13 See Luke 10:25–37.
14 Galatians 5:6.
15 1 John 3:17–18.
16 2 Samuel 24:24.