The Final Commandment To Love
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
Most of the original ten commandments are phrased in the negative, “you shall not.” But the negative is only half the picture. After reminding the Israelites to obey God’s commands, Moses spoke these words still inscribed in many Jewish homes, “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).
Within the Law, love is the positive motive that balances the weight of duty. Not only were Israelites to love God, but also 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” (Leviticus 19:18).
When the ten commandments were originally given, including the one to love God, Moses said to teach and discuss them with our children when we sit around the house or walk in the fields. The Old Testament law was a high standard to achieve, yet it clearly distinguished that the point was love, not the law. True love for God and others transcended the perfunctory task of keeping the commandments.
Jesus reiterated love as the most important command nearly fourteen centuries later. He reminded a young man that keeping the law was not enough without love for God and others (Mark 10:21). If you struggle to follow rules, focus first on loving God with all your heart. With love, other obedience becomes easy.
Resource Reading: Ephesians 3:14-19