Laying Down the Law About Love
Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 28:1-6
If you fully obey the Lord your God by keeping all the commands I am giving you today, … you will be blessed wherever you go, both in coming and in going. Deuteronomy 28:1, 6
SOME PEOPLE think that love and law don’t mix. They think that a God who loves you wouldn’t hold you to any rules.
Some people say that believers in the Old Testament were “under law” while people from the New Testament on-including Christians today-are “under grace” or love. They quote John 1:17, “The law was given through Moses; God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ,” and Romans 6:14, “You are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God’s grace.”
But it’s not a matter of living under law or love; you live out the law of love. Yes, it’s true that you are not under the ceremonies or curses of the law of Moses in the Old Testament (see Hebrews 8-10; Galatians 3: 13). But the ethical principles embodied in the law still apply to Christians today. In the two greatest commandments love God and love people (see Matthew 22:37-40)-God tells you to do the loving thing. In the Ten Commandments and other instructions in the Bible, God shows you what the loving thing is and warns you against doing the unloving thing.
Love is at the heart of the Old Testament law. The introduction to the second commandment emphasizes God’s love: “I, the Lord your God … lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands” (Exodus 20:5-6). Descriptive words for God, such as mercy, kindness, goodness, and favor, are everywhere in the Old Testament. Anybody who thinks that love is only a New Testament teaching isn’t reading the Old Testament!
The law itself, in fact, is one of the biggest expressions of God’s love you could ever find. You see in the Ten Commandments God’s commitment to provide for us and protect us from harm. In his farewell speeches to Israel, Moses urged, “Obey the terms of this covenant.” Why? “So that you will prosper in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9).
When God gave the law, he said it was “for your own good” (Deuteronomy10: 13)-to provide for and protect his children. God’s purpose in giving his law was to provide for our prosperity and joy and to protect us from heartache and hurt.
You can’t mistake this fact: God is incredibly loving to give us plenty of advance warning in hopes of sparing us from the consequences of sin!
REFLECT: How do God’s laws spell out how to love him and others?
PRAY: How will you express your thanks to God today for his love?