Love Makes Love Possible
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the Law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." To be honest, I never much cared for this saying. It seems that to follow this principle means I'll be overlooking others' faults constantly. After all, that's what I do for myself (and that's a big enough job). If anyone gets the benefit of the doubt, it's me. If anyone is excused for an overreaction, yep, me again. Oh, I know I can be a pistol, sometimes—too blunt, lacking compassion, too critical, callous and self-serving—but hey, that's just me. I can deal with that.
But Paul is not saying just to overlook the faults of our neighbor, but to intentionally love and care for them—as we do for ourselves. Are they in need? What can we do to help? Are they struggling with personal problems? How can we support them and show we care? Doing these things, according to Paul, is really what the Law is all about. It's like a "fulfilling of the Law" in its original intended meaning.
Jesus, of course, is a Master at this. As He walked this earth, God in the flesh, He loved His neighbors, wherever He found him or her. Be they Jew or Gentile, Samaritan, Roman, Greek, or any other sinner, He showed them compassion; He loved them; He was there for them. In this, He set a supreme example for us to follow.
But even as much as we needed an example to follow, we needed more from Jesus. Because no matter how much we love others, our good actions toward our neighbors still fall short of the Law's righteous demand for us. The apostle Paul knew this all too well. He spent years trying to attain righteousness before God based on the Law. He discovered it was futile. The flesh is corrupt, and we can't uncorrupt. God had to step in, and in Jesus He did.
"For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:3-4).
You see, the Law is fulfilled in us who believe. We are complete because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Now, filled with God's Holy Spirit, may we love others as Jesus has loved us.
Heavenly Father, by Your Holy Spirit's power in our lives, may we love others with a selfless love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
1. How hard is it for you to love (or think kindly of) people, in general?Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
2. How are the rules of God's Law "fulfilled" by love?
3. How might your attitude and actions toward your neighbor change if you tried to love them as you love yourself?
It seems that to follow this principle means I'll be overlooking others' faults constantly.