the needed directives of love

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 neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13

People should love from the heart. There is that impulse and motivation which is a part of being human, of being made in the image of God, in spite of our sinfulness.

Scripture spells out to us a description of what true love looks like. It is the refusal to do harm to a neighbor: not committing adultery, not murdering, not stealing or even coveting what belongs to someone else, or any other command concerning human relationships. All are summed up in the command:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love according to scripture is not simply doing whatever one wants to do as long as they “love” the person and people involved. There has to be moral grounding, rights and wrongs. Love acts according to truth and what is right in God’s eyes, not simply what is right in our own eyes. What is right in our own eyes can indeed be tainted by sin, and too often is. The goal is to see more and more like God sees and to act accordingly. But although we have the Spirit to write God’s law on our hearts, we still need directives, because we’re still weak in this present state. The Spirit helps us to love in ways which God directs us to love, evident in the narrative and commands in scripture.

And so I love hopefully out of the heart. But in spite of my heart at times. Love in scripture seems focused on action. No matter how one might feel, or even what they might say (although words can be a genuine and healing act of love) if there are no acts of love as needed–think of the parable of the Good Samaritan–then any profession of love is empty and meaningless. Instead we want to be aware of God’s will for us in Jesus given to us in scripture. So that our love can be well informed, and that we might act accordingly, in and through Jesus.


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