Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:10
Apart from its role as an icon of evangelical self-righteousness vis a vis intransigent secularists, the Law of God is not all that highly regarded among contemporary Christians (quick: can you name the Ten Commandments in order?). A certain fear of legalism or "works salvation" keeps us from giving the Law its due. The Apostle Paul insisted that, given the fact that Jesus' righteousness is the basis for our salvation, and His righteousness is that of the Law, the Law is established as the ground of righteousness in which we as Christ's followers have been planted and can expect to flourish (Rom. 3:31). How many times have I heard some Christian boast, "I'm not under the Law; I'm under grace." Or, "No Savior but Jesus, no law but love." Right.
But Paul insists there can be no love without Law. The Law of God, Jesus taught, was given in order to engender and guide love for God and neighbors (Mt. 22:34-40). Paul says the same thing in Romans 13: "Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law...love is the fulfilling of the law" (vv. 8, 10). The Law of God was given to train us for love. It does not exhaustively define the way of love; rather, the Law marks out grooves in the soul and trajectories of practice for living in love. The Spirit of God, Who dwells in the hearts of all who believe, empowers obedience to the Law and leads us beyond the letter of the Law into its true Spirit, so that the love of God is shed abroad in us as we obey the Spirit, and flows out from us to refresh others in the grace and truth of the Lord (Ezek. 36:26, 27; Rom. 5:5; Jn. 7:37-39). The better we know the Law - meditating on it daily, as the psalmist recommends (Ps. 1) - the more readily and consistently we will obey it, believing it to mark out the path of righteousness and love. The Spirit Himself helps us, both in understanding the Law and in being willing and able to live it out (Jn. 16:13; Phil. 2:12, 13); but He does more than that as well. He takes our explicit obedience and fashions it into the very image of Jesus, so that we know by nature how we are to show the love of Christ increasingly, in every situation (2 Cor. 3:12-18). And, though we may not consciously be acting in obedience to the Law when we show the love of Christ to others, a little examination and analysis of our behavior will show how such genuine Christ-like love derives from and is anchored in the commandments and precepts of God.
Would you show more of Christ's love to those around you? Spend more time meditating in His Law.
(For a compendium of the Ten Commandments and their accompanying precepts and statutes, visit www.lulu.com/waxedtablet.)