Love is one of those ideals we struggle to describe. Since the beginning, artists, poets, and authors have tried to convey what this four letter word actually means. Were the Beatles correct when they sang,
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
There is no shortage of images and definitions for love. You can Google those in your own time.
I sense that many of my readers are discouraged. The discouragement we all feel has been intensified since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps all we need is love.
As I prepared for my message this Sunday, I was reminded again to reflect on the royal law of love. My preaching text is Matthew 22:1-14. My reflection on love was prompted from my reading of the end of the chapter. (22:37-38) After Jesus silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees asked him what the greatest commandment was, to which a Jesus replied that it was to love God with our total self and to love our neighbor as our selves. Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18 when he said this. The Bible reveals the Royal law of love which was embodied through the Incarnation of Jesus.
The Royal law of love is the way in which God’s amazing covenant love for His people impacts the ways in which they treat one another. We see the importance of both our relationship to God and other image bearers throughout the Bible and especially in the Ten Commandments. Think in terms of our vertical and horizontal relationships.
The late F. Leroy Forlines said, “The revelation of God’s love reaches a high point with Jesus. Jesus had compassion in action. He was moved with compassion when he saw the sick, the bereaved, and the hungry.” (Quest for Truth, 74)
Our world is saturated in hate and animosity. We grieve over the brokenness we see, the oppression many feel, and mostly we grieve over a lack of love. The Royal law of love is not some unattainable idea or fairy tale. It was made a reality when the sinless Son of God died for rebels like us. As we allow His love to impact us, it should change the way we relate to one another. You cannot actually love your neighbor well of you don’t love God. You can’t love God first. You have to accept it as a gift.
Brothers and sisters, in a world full of hate we must let our light shine. The Light in us shines in the darkest night. If we want to see our culture change we must implement the Royal law of love in interpersonal relationships and in our commitment to evangelism and discipleship. The most loving thing we can do is point people to Jesus through intentional evangelism. We can’t evangelize people we don’t actually care about or love.
It’s one thing to say you love someone. It’s entirely another matter to demonstrate that love. Do I always love people like I should? Absolutely not. The Holy Spirit reminded me of my shortcomings recently at work. I work in customer service in the food industry. I get so annoyed when my customers roll up to order their food (and roll up their weed while they order!) I felt myself becoming frustrated with these customers recently, then that still small Voice reminded me that these people need Jesus. They are searching for joy in all the wrong places. The Spirit reminded me that I must not love only in word but also in deed. (1 John 3:18) We all fall short in demonstrating love to God and our neighbor. We couldn’t love well without His endless supply of grace.
Meditate on the Royal law of love today, dear reader. Meditate on the scripture passage which appears in the theme image of this post.
Wesley’s hymn, “Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling” is a fitting conclusion for this post.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n, to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love thou art.
Visit us with thy salvation;
Enter ev’ry trembling heart.
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