For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:13-14
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[f] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. – John 14:15-21
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important 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 and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” – Mark 12:28-34
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. – 1 Corinthians 9:21
As I have worked my way through the book of Galatians, a question has presented itself to my mind about the Law and the love of God. It seems to me that most of the time in my life when these two subjects have been put forward, they have usually been juxtaposed as conflicting with one another. I believe that idea is wrong. The two are beautifully compatible and mutually supportive. I am considering the moral law primarily since it is the portion of the law that is enduring to the end of the age.
Love the Lord
Think of this, the love toward God requirement is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; an all-encompassing all-consuming love for God. What does that kind of love look like? Consider these characteristics.
I have no other Gods in my life; the triune God has my total undivided loyalty; I have no idols in my life be they literal demon-backed statues or idols of the heart, they would not have my fear, I fear God alone.
I only speak of God in a manner that is befitting his glory and majesty and never speak of God in a vain and unbecoming way, and finally,
I take time to celebrate him and his mighty creative and saving work.
I believe that is an apt description of deep love for God. It is the first four of the ten commandments, those that deal with our relationship with God.
Love my neighbor
The second part of Jesus’ love command is to love my neighbor as I love myself. At another point, Jesus takes our requirement for loving one another to another level. He says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). Loving our brothers just got harder. The standard of loving my neighbor as I love myself is a high standard but not as high as the standard of laying our lives down for our friends, an allusion to the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf.
How can I describe what that kind of love for my fellow man looks like?
The priority love to my fellow-man shows up in my relationship with my parents, ouch! Any of us who have lived through being a teenager probably have offenses toward our parents we would rather forget. But the kind of love Jesus describes honors our parents first.
Love for my fellow man is always redemptive. When I am offended I never become angry and throw insults around about the stupid idiot who just mistreated me. I will never murder someone, literally or figuratively, no matter how severely I have been offended or injured.
Love will always honor the sanctity of my marriage. I will never allow anything to break the covenant bond I have with my wife. Love will always honor the sanctity of my friends’ marriage. It is a holy thing. No matter how hot my friend’s wife may be, she is not mine and my heart will not desire her. With this kind of love, I will never commit adultery, even in my heart.
This Jesus kind of love will make every effort to earn, save and grow my wealth and do what I can to assist others to do the same. It will look out for the welfare of all of those around me. I will never allow a friend or neighbor to be taken advantage of so their wealth is unjustly taken from them.
Jesus love will always attempt to protect the reputation of my friends and neighbors. It will not receive gossip and other forms of fake news as if they were true.
This Jesus love penetrates even to the depth of my heart and makes me content with what I have and who I am. This love produces in me great contentment and peace and never desires what others have.
Those six paragraphs describe the six of the ten commandments that deal with our human relationships. Love looks good, doesn’t it?
Rely on the Holy Spirit
The question is, do we love like that? The honest answer is, no. We fail on a regular basis and so whether we look at the law from a legal code perspective or from the perspective of loving God and our neighbor, we come up short in either case. Thus, the good news of the gospel. Where we fail to love, Jesus loves perfectly on our behalf. His actions of love are substituted for our failings, he is our righteousness.
Does this mean we accept or weakness and continue to sin by breaking the law or by failing to love with the Jesus kind of love? No. This is where we lean in heavily on the promise that he pours the love of God in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We are brought back to the principle that we don’t “please God” by our human efforts, but by walking in the Spirit, the one who sheds God’s love in our hearts. Then, while we don’t reflect that love with perfection, it does get better and we are changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord and we look more like this Jesus kind of love outlined in the ten commandments. Walking in love and obeying the ten commandments in the power of the Holy Spirit are essentially the same thing. So, leet us walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.