Love - the Fulfillment of the Law

4m | Apr 8, 2024

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13: 8 – 10).

The famous Ten Commandments contained four that related to the Israelites’ relationship with God and six that spoke of how they should treat each other. Jesus summed them up when he answered a question from a religious teacher about which of the commandments might be the most important.

Jesus simply said, “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12: 29 – 31).

Paul reiterates all of this in his letter to the Romans. If we do not set out to hurt or harm another but choose rather to love the person who has wronged us, we have fulfilled the law that commands us to not murder.

If we honour others above ourselves, seeking to give recognition of a job well done, instead of taking it, we turn our jealousy and covetousness into love, fulfilling the command not to steal.

The Ten Commandments carved on stone tablets were always meant to be carried in human hearts. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah,

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts” (Jer 31: 33).

The writer to the Hebrews picks this up, reminding us that we have direct access to the Father in the Most Holy Place through the blood of Jesus and that therefore, we can draw near to God, know that our sins are forgiven, hold on to His promises and “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb 10: 24).

As children of God, we have all the resources of Heaven available to us to fulfill the law. Not by self-righteous acts of religious activity but by genuine love, for our neighbour and for each other. By good deeds inspired by the cross. By pouring out on the world around us the same love the Father has lavished on us.

As Paul writes, both the acts of love and the people that love in Christ’s name, take the law once carved in stone and infuse it into living and breathing human souls, who, in turn share it with each other as co-members of Christ’s body and radiate it out to a dying world.

Christ has fulfilled the law. Love continues that work.

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