in Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the
fulfillment of the law.” It’s interesting how we naturally seem inclined
to reverse that statement.
comes to relationships, most of us like to know where we stand. We like to have
some clear evidence, some way to measure where we stand with others, and the
idea of the law being the way to fulfill love is easier to measure, easier to
keep track of, than the idea of love being the way to fulfill the law.
with that reasoning is that a person can keep the law without loving. But a person cannot love without the law being
fulfilled in them. The law gives instruction in the ways a person who loves
will live. But the difference between the law and love is that love works from
the inside, transforming a person from the inside out; and the law only affects
what is on the outside – outward behavior.
because love and law have very different motivations. A person motivated by
love does not need to be told to behave in a loving way, but a person motivated
by law does. We fear that unless there is some strong outside motivation, such
as the law, compelling us to behave rightly, we probably won’t.
But real love
is unconditional. It’s not something that can be compelled, forced or coerced
into existence. It’s freely given and freely received, or it isn’t love. It
might be acceptance or approval, but it is not love, because love has no conditions.
Acceptance and approval usually do have conditions, and we often mistake them
That is why
our so-called “love” is so easily strained when the people we “love”
fall short of our expectations and demands. Such so-called “love” is really just
approval, which we can give or withhold based on how well others measure up to our
demands and expectations. Many of us were treated that way by our parents, our
teachers and our bosses, and without even thinking we often treat our own
children that way.
Maybe that is why we tend to get so uncomfortable with the idea
that faith in Christ has superseded the law. We want something to measure
others by, but if they are saved by grace through faith, which they are, then
we have no measuring rod to use. If God loves them in spite of their sins, then
how can we size them up and withhold love from them when they don’t behave the
way we want them to?
Well, the good news is that we are all saved only by grace through faith, and we can be very thankful that we are,
because not one person but Jesus has ever measured up to salvation. Thank God
for his unconditional love, through which he both saves us and transforms us
into the image of Christ.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.