Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger says, "Love is the medicine for our sick old world." This authority on mental illness seems to reassert the words of the greatest teacher who ever lived.
To many people the Old and New Testaments seem to stand in marked contrast each to the other. They picture the law of the Old Testament as standing in opposition to grace in the New Testament, quite often even without realizing it. They go one step further and picture God as being a hard, even cruel Master of mankind who carries a large stick, who is going to see that justice is rendered, while they think of the God of the New Testament as a loving Father who gave His Son for all men.
Today’s Guidelines concludes a series of studies applying principles of the Ten Commandments to our lives today. Let's face it: The majority of those ten commandments are negative. "You shall have no other gods before me." "You shall not make for yourself an idol." "You shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not covet." But the negative is only one side of the coin, and the other side of the coin is the one that makes the negative work.
When Moses brought the people together to review what God had promised before they crossed the Jordan into Canaan, He restated the Ten Commandments, saying, "So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you..." (Deuteronomy 5:32, NASB). Then in the passage that follows, Moses gave those words which you will find today written on the doorposts of many, if not most, homes in Israel. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
And there you have it: love in the midst of the Law, for love is the positive motive that balances the duty of the Law. Love for God wasn't the only directive that had been given to the people, for earlier God had instructed that the people learn to love each other. "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD." Those words are found in Leviticus 19:18 (NASB), and they were spoken fourteen centuries before Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you!"
When Moses originally gave the commandments, and particularly the one saying we should love the Lord supremely, he said that these should be taught to our children and should be conversation when we sit around the house or walk in the fields. Yes, the Old Testament law raised a standard, and often a hard one; yet it pointed out clearly that the key to the whole matter wasn't law but love: love so strong--strong enough it overcame the perfunctory task of keeping the commandments.
On one occasion a very fine young man came to Jesus and asked, "Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus quoted some of the Ten Commandments to him and He replied, "All these I have done from my youth up." To him Jesus said, "Go, sell what you have and give to the poor.... Then come follow me" (Mark 10:21). But the young man went away very sorrowful because he was very wealthy. His money had become His god and his reason for existing. He loved his money far more than anything else. Yes, it is the eleventh commandment--loving God--that makes the rest easy.
Resource Reading: Ephesians 3:14-19.