Law and Love #441

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8–10)

Love and law are not antagonists, but friendly companions. Perhaps people tend to set love and law against each other because they perceive law as the embodiment of “you shall not”. But, the same law that said “you shall not” also said “you shall” (v. 9). Law contains the proactive obedience of love toward God and toward other human beings. Hence, “law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8). And again, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:12). Love fulfills all that law requires, not out of compulsion, but out of genuine honor for the Lawgiver (1 Jno. 5:3). We are under the moral obligation to “love one another” – a commandment (law) given to us by Jesus Christ (v. 8; Jno. 13:34-35). Do no harm to your neighbor, and so fulfill God’s law of love.

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