February 06, 2022

Only Love is Enough

Romans 13:8-14

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

—  Romans 13:10

If we really loved one another, we could forget all the other commandments. For, indeed, love fulfills the law.

Love is a moral principle. A principle covers all the world’s moral activity. There are a few other moral principles, such as be holy, do justice, do no harm, and so on. These principles ­apply in all times and places. We can never say, “No, I don’t have to love here,” or “I don’t have to do justice there.” In all cases moral principles apply.

When we love someone, we should not need to be reminded not to steal from them, or lie about them, or cheat them. Such reminders are almost impertinent for someone who loves another. Paul says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” But doing no harm, or merely observing the law, is not enough. Only the perfect love that Christ showed when he gave his life for ours is sufficient to fulfill the law. Christ removed the curse of lawlessness and has given us everlasting life.

To love as Jesus did means that we incorporate God’s self-sacrificing love into our hearts. In Christ, God showed us not only perfect obedience to the law but perfect love.

And only Christ fully lives out that perfect love. We who live in this hostile world still struggle with desires to make gains for ourselves or to harm ­others. Since we still live with this tension, we still need the law.

God, forgive us when we harm our neighbor. Help us to truly love you and others, guiding us by your own perfect love shown to us through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

About the author — Kent Van Til

Kent Van Til was a missionary in Costa Rica. He taught theological ethics both there and in the USA. He is the author of four books. The most recent is a spiritual biography of his grandmother entitled, "A Name for Herself: A Dutch Immigrant's Story." Kent likes to fish, hunt, make music, and entertain his grandchildren.

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