Without doubt, there are many DOs and DO NOTs in the Holy Bible. Does it make any sense therefore, to “Do the DOs and Forget the NO NOTs?”
Jesus gave us some clues to the answer when he replied to lawyer among the Sadducees and the Pharisees who tempted Him, asking which Him was the great commandment in the Law?
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
These are unquestionably the greatest two commandments in the Bible. Both have one important requirement in common, both require us to “Love“. First to love God with our whole being and ability, and the second to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Before proceeding further, let us explore what Jesus mean by “love,” for the Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, has four words for love: Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē), Éros (ἔρως érōs), Philia (φιλία philía) and Storge (στοργή storgē). The words used Jesus here are Agápe and, as Wikipedia says: “In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial love. Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast. It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. Agape was appropriated by Christians for use to express the unconditional love of God.”
Romans 13:10 goes some way to clarifying why love is important to Christians, saying:
“Love works no ill to its neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.”
In other words, if we do all we do in love, then we will do no ill, or evil, against anyone. But more than that, when we do all we do in love, we meet all the Godly requirements of the Old Testament Law. Now it is true that Christians are not under the Old Covenant, the Old Testament Law – the Law of Moses – but under the New Covenant, and as Romans 8:2 says “the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Why is this important to know? Because, as 2 Corinthians 3:6 says, we have trust through Christ toward God, “who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter [of the Law], but of the spirit [of the Law]; for the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.”
Love therefore, allows us to comply with the spirit of the Law which brings life, and avoids us seeking compliance with the Law, which is death; for compliance with the letter of the Law ultimately leads to us seeking salvation by our own works, which excludes the work of Jesus and the Cross.
1 John 4:7 also tells us what love is, saying:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.”
Yes, Love is of God. Christians are called to be more Christ-like, more godly and as 1 John 4:7 says, if we love others, we have been born of God and know God.
Loving one another is therefore not just a commandment for Christians to follow, it is a means of measuring whether or not we are born of God and if we know God. 1 Samuel 2:3 addresses this nicely saying that our actions speak louder than our words, especially before God, who can read our heart and is not fooled by our outward signs:
“Talk no more so very proudly. Remove arrogance out of your mouth, for Jehovah is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed.”
1 John 4:12 then proceeds further to elaborate on what love is, saying:
“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
Again, John is using our love as a measurement of God’s love perfected in us. The only way that can happen is when we submit to God fully and without reservation and with love. Then as we love Him who first loved us (1 John 4:19) we see His love manifesting and manifested, in us.
If you have ever studied secular or humanistic counselling or behavioural modification techniques, one of the first things they teach is that it is better, more effective and all together easier to do positive things, “the DOs of life,” than it is to concentrate on the negative things, “the DO NOTs of life.” Yet despite all that they have written about their techniques, none come close to the simplicity, the brevity or the perfection of Jesus as he says:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind….. You shall love your neighbour as yourself”