When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment in all the law, He answered (Matthew 22:37-39), Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Then in the 40th verse, He makes this statement: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, Romans 13:10 says, Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And Galatians 5:14, For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The point I'd like for us to consider today is that commandment keeping (which we should strive to do) is all about one thing. And it's not self-discipline, it's not self-control, it's not will power, it's not hard work – though all those things are great and helpful. Adherence to the holy commands of God is all about love.
Think about it, Jesus summarized every command available to the people he addressed in Matthew 22 with one two-part command: LOVE God and LOVE your neighbor.
First of all, let's explain what this does NOT mean. Love does not trump other commandments. We are not clear to ignore certain commandments because we think doing so would be unloving. For example, Jesus commanded go and preach the gospel to every creature. The majority of people in this nation and around the world have been blinded by the devil and have this misconception that a Christian's obedience to that commandment is an expression of hatred. Quite to the contrary, Jesus preached hard (see Mark 9 and Luke 16 on hell, or see Luke 13 on the consequences for not repenting), but nobody would question that He was motivated by love.
At any rate, what the Bible is saying to us is that if we love God and love others, keeping God's commandments would be a whole lot more simple…because it would become almost natural. If I love God with all my heart, there is no way I am going to worship some other God, or set up an idol, or curse His name, or forsake the assembly of His people (commandments 1-4). And if I love others as much as I love myself, there's not a chance I am going to dishonor my parents, or kill somebody, or take another man's wife, or lie about him, or covet his property.
Our problem is that we love ourselves way too much. And that's the number 1 characteristic of the perilous times God said would come in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
Now, let's think about it. Is God not worthy of our love? Of course He is! Jesus Christ bled and died for our sins. He has given us forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift. He has sealed us and indwelt us with His Spirit. He has reserved a mansion for us in heaven. He gives us life and life more abundant…He gives us all things pertaining to life and godliness…He gives us all things richly to enjoy. And we ought to love Him for it. Jesus said the best and the only way to prove that love is to keep His commandments (John 14:15).
In considering the command to love our neighbors, the objection that could be raised is the fact that they are not worthy of our love. The counter argument is three-fold:
We don't deserve the love we give to ourselves, and yet we love "us" anyway O
Others show us love we do not deserve
Jesus Christ set the example by expressing the fullest measure of His love – when we were yet sinners! (Romans 5:8)
So how's your love life? Love God. Love others. Die to self. Keep His commandments, and be blessed.