THE PRINCIPLE OF LOVE

According to the Bible the command to love embraces all the commands. In fact, if we were totally committed to love, we would not need the other commands because, having taken on board the principle of love, love itself will prevent us from choices that dishonour God and that harm our neighbour. [But, being sinners, we need the detailed rules!]

Matthew 22:37-40: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart … soul … mind …Love your neighbour as your self. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

Romans 13:8: ‘… he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.’

Galatians 5:14: ‘The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” ’
 

We might ask: why is love so important a principle that it embraces and includes all the commands?

In 1John 4:7-21 John bases the extreme significance of love for Christians on several facts about love:

Love comes from God [7]

Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God [7]

God is love [8]

God showed his love by sending his Son [9]

Love is … that God sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins [10]

God loved us this much [11]

We know and rely on the love God has for us [16]

Whoever loves lives in God and God in him [16]

God’s perfect love drives out the fear of judgment [18]

We love because he first loved us [19]

It is not possible to love God and hate one’s brother [20].

The principle of love is grounded in the very nature of God and is revealed and expressed in the action of God in sending Jesus to die for our salvation. Therefore, because we are his people, and as his servants, love must of necessity be our over-riding, over-ruling principle. It can be no other way. We claim to know this God who is love, we claim to belong to this God who is love. As John points out, if we do not embrace love, all of our claims are worthless.  Not only is love the very nature of God, it is also his specific command and his expectation. Those who know his love must love:

‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loves you, so you must love one another’ [John 13:34]

‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’ [John 15:12]

‘Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves’ [Romans 12:10]

‘… live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us’ [Ephesians 5:1]

‘… since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another’ [1John 4:11]

‘He has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brother’ [1John 4:21].

This principle of love, expressing the priority of God and the priority of the other, cuts right across our human quest for personal power and personal prestige. It challenges us, it commands us, it calls us to reflect the very nature of God demonstrated and defined in and by his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2016