The Two Commandments
“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.”
Paul, writing in, Romans 13:9–10 esvbible.org
The Two Commandments!
Yes, I know there are ten, and well over six-hundred additional laws, but they can all be gathered into two.
Jesus said it, and to a lawyer of all people:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 22:37–40)
And Jesus added a new commandment, which may also be grounded in these two.
“‘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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” (John 13:34–35)
Obedience to this new commandment serves as an identifying mark of every follower of Jesus.
So, if we truly love God and truly love one another, how will we be able to disobey any other commandment?
Paul provides us with the most comprehensive, the complete definition of love:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends … So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.(1 Corinthians 13:4–7a, 13)
And God showed us His love, this kind of love, in action, in sending Jesus into the world, to die on the cross, in order that we might find and receive forgiveness for our sin, and be redeemed.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
For Christians, what does this mean, and what does it look like?
1. Love is a choice made by God, and a choice we make.
Love is not accidental, not coincidental, not something we manipulate, but a choice we make because of the choice God has made.
2. Love is a covenant made by God and a covenant we embrace.
God sets all of the rules of the covenant, and we willingly embrace and obey the rules set by Him.
3. Love is a conviction given by God and a conviction by which we are moved.
Love not only gives to us more than can be measured by any human means, it also requires much from us, so much so that it is unlikely we would ever love anyone, apart from the deep conviction that this is our holy duty to one another.
4. Love is a commitment made by God and a commitment we make to one another.
Love is not just emotions and feelings, although they are both frequent and legitimate manifestations of love received and given.
However, authentic love is much more. It is a volitional act to which we commit ourselves every day.
5. Love is a cost borne by God and one one we must also bear for one another.
Love cost God the Father the life of His Son, and this means that no cost is beyond what we should expect to pay in showing our love for the Lord, for our neighbor, and for one another.
6. Love is a challenge God sets before us every day.
There are many people in the world, even in our families and churches, who are not easy to love. In fact, we may be the very ones who are not easy to love.
Yet, because someone is awkward, or unlikeable, or even hostile to us, does not remove, or even reduce, our obligation to love them.
As I read the other day, if God loves my neighbor, and I am to be like God, then I have to love my neighbor as well.
7. Love is our comfort from God and a comfort we are to receive and to give.
We all live in a world and within a culture that may not offer us much comfort most of the time. The endless pressure to focus on self, and self-fulfillment and self-gratification, has its own cost and harm, and we dearly need the comfort from our loving God, and our loving brothers and sisters.
In the previous chapter Paul admonishes us:
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)
And, as well, Peter reminds us:
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
There are many laws in the Bible, but surely we can remember, and obey these two? Yes?
Soli Deo gloria!