Introduction: Law & Grace
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
- Are we under law or grace? It is the grace of God that saves and keeps us (Ephesians 2:8-9) but does that give us license to sin? God forbid or certainly not!
- Just as Jesus came to fulfill the law, the Christians main focus in living needs to follow the laws of God not to be saved but in obedience to the command of Jesus (If you love me, keep my commandments-John 14:15).
LOVE & THE lAW
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
What is Love?
- God is love. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. -1 John 4:8-10
- Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Co 13:4 Charity suffereth long,…. The apostle, in this and some following verses, enumerates the several properties and characters of the grace of love; and all along represents it as if it was a person, and no doubt designs one who is possessed of it, and in whose heart it is implanted and reigns; such an one is said to “suffer long”, or be “patient”, as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read; not only under afflictions by the hand of God, which such an one considers as arising from love; but under the reproaches and persecutions of men, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, and in imitation of him; such a person is slow to anger when abused, not quick of resentment, nor hasty to revenge when affronted; but exercises forbearance, suffers long, and bears much, and is ready to forgive:
and is kind; liberal, and bountiful, does good to all men, even to enemies, and especially to the household of faith; he is gentle to all men, affable and courteous to his brethren, and not morose, churlish, and ill natured; he is easy and yielding to the tempers and humours of men; accommodates himself to their infirmities, capacities, manners, and circumstances, in everything he can, that is not contrary to the glory of God, the interest of Christ, the honour of religion, his own con science, and the good of men;
charity envieth not; or he that has the grace of love to God, Christ, and the saints, does not envy the temporal happiness of others, though it is what he has not, or is greater than he enjoys; as Rachel envied her sister, because she had children when she herself had none; as Joseph’s brethren envied him because he had a greater share in his father’s affections than they had; or as good men may be tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked, when they themselves are in adversity; but this grace, when in exercise, will not suffer a person to do: nor will such an one envy the superior measures of grace, the more excellent spiritual gifts, or the greater degree of usefulness, and of success in any spiritual undertaking, and so of greater honour and respect, in any of the saints and servants of Christ to themselves, of which Moses and John the Baptist are remarkable instances, Num_11:28,
- It amazes me how many Christians have not moved beyond the childish is this matter. not childlike with its perceived innocence and love but childish in its actions that it not only resents what the other has and brings a jealousy out in them to the point they instead of “rejoicing with those who rejoice” they try to take away from others what they have with the thought “it’s not fair!” with the same thought as two siblings who are arguing over who got the bigger slice of cake or scoop of ice cream.
charity vaunteth not itself, is not ostentatious, a proud boaster; either of what he has, the things of nature, as wisdom, riches, honour, strength, &c. or spiritual gifts; or of what he does, since what such an one does, he does from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God, and not to be seen of men, or to gain their esteem and applause: or is not rash, and precipitant; does not run headlong into measures, to promote his own honour and interest, without considering what will be the consequence of things; nor is he rash with his mouth, or hasty with his lips, to utter anything unbecoming before God or men. The Arabic version renders it, “does not speak deceitfully”; or hypocritically, for nothing is more contrary to true genuine love than this; the Syriac version renders it, “is not tumultuous”; noisy and seditious: such an one is not troublesome in a commonwealth, nor does he go into parties and factions in churches, but is all the reverse:
is not puffed up swelled with pride, and elated with a vain conceit of himself, of his parts and abilities, of his learning, eloquence, wisdom, and knowledge, as the false teachers in this church were; knowledge without grace, unsanctified knowledge, mere notional speculative knowledge, puffeth up; but charity, or the grace of love, does not; that edifies and preserves persons from being puffed up with themselves, or one against another.
1Co 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly,…. By using either unbecoming words, or doing indecent actions; for a man unprincipled with this grace will be careful that no filthy and corrupt communication proceed out of his mouth, which may offend pious ears; and that he uses no ridiculous and ludicrous gestures, which may expose himself and grieve the saints; accordingly the Syriac version renders it, “neither does it commit that which is shameful”: such an one will not do a little mean despicable action, in reproaching one, or flattering another, in order to gain a point, to procure some worldly advantage, or an interest in the friendship and affection of another. Some understand it in this sense, that one endued with this grace thinks nothing unseemly and unbecoming him, however mean it may appear, in which he can be serviceable to men, and promote the honour of religion and interest of Christ; though it be by making coats and garments for the poor, as Dorcas did; or by washing the feet of the saints, in imitation of his Lord and master: or “is not ambitious”, as the Vulgate Latin version reads; of honour and applause, and of being in the highest form, but is lowly, meek and humble:
seeketh not her own things: even those which are “lawful”, as the Arabic version renders it; but seeks the things of God, and what will make most for his honour and glory; and the things of Christ, and what relate to the spread of his Gospel, and the enlargement of his kingdom; and also the things of other men, the temporal and spiritual welfare of the saints: such look not only on their own things, and are concerned for them, but also upon the things of others, which they likewise care for:
is not easily provoked: to wrath, but gives place to it: such an one is provoked at sin, at immorality and idolatry, as Paul’s spirit was stirred up or provoked, when he saw the superstition of the city of Athens; and is easily provoked to love and good works, which are entirely agreeable to the nature of charity:
thinketh no evil; not but that evil thoughts are in such a man’s heart, for none are without them; though they are hateful, abominable, and grieving to such as are partakers of the grace of God, who long to be delivered from them: but the meaning is, either that one possessed of this grace of love does not think of the evil that is done him by another; he forgives, as God has forgiven him, so as to forget the injury done him, and remembers it no more; and so the Arabic version reads it, “and remembers not evil”; having once forgiven it, he thinks of it no more; or he does not meditate revenge, or devise mischief, and contrive evil against man that has done evil to him, as Esau did against his brother Jacob; so the Ethiopic version, by way of explanation, adds, “neither thinks evil, nor consults evil”; or as the word here used will bear to be rendered, “does not impute evil”; reckon or place it to the account of him that has committed it against him, but freely and fully forgives, as God, when he forgives sin, is said not to impute it; or such an one is not suspicious of evil in others, he does not indulge evil surmises, and groundless jealousies; which to do is very contrary to this grace of love.
Rejoiceth not in iniquity – Ου χαιρει επι τῃ αδικιᾳ· Rejoiceth not in falsehood, but on the contrary, rejoiceth in the truth: this meaning αδικια has in different parts of the Scriptures. At first view, this character of love seems to say but little in its favor; for who can rejoice in unrighteousness or falsity? But is it not a frequent case that persons, who have received any kind of injury, and have forborne to avenge themselves, but perhaps have left it to God; when evil falls upon the sinner do console themselves with what appears to them an evidence that God has avenged their quarrels; and do at least secretly rejoice that the man is suffering for his misdeeds? Is not this, in some sort, rejoicing in iniquity? Again: is it not common for interested persons to rejoice in the successes of an unjust and sanguinary war, in the sackage and burning of cities and towns; and is not the joy always in proportion to the slaughter that has been made of the enemy? And do these call themselves Christians? Then we may expect that Moloch and his sub-devils are not so far behind this description of Christians as to render their case utterly desperate. If such Christians can be saved, demons need not despair!
But rejoiceth in the truth – Αληθεια· Every thing that is opposite to falsehood and irreligion. Those who are filled with the love of God and man rejoice in the propagation and extension of Divine truth – in the spread of true religion, by which alone peace and good will can be diffused throughout the earth. And because they rejoice in the truth, therefore they do not persecute nor hinder true religion, but help it forward with all their might and power.
- Love: agape NT:26 agape (ag-ah’-pay); from NT:25; love, i.e. affection or benevolence; specially (plural) a love-feast: KJV – (feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.[i]
- God’s Love (same word) was shown by sending His Son to die for us so we could be saved!
- We show our love to God by following His commandments. John 14:1 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
Showing Love Towards God
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, strength. How do we do this?
And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
- God is a jealous God. He does not desire us to have anything in our lives more important than Him. Whatever that is becomes an idol. The bed, the TV, the job, the family, churchianity (that is religious service), anything.
- Don’t take the name of God in vain. That is not jus cussin but saying you’re a Christian and not acting like it.
- Take time to be with God, set aside time to be with Him, get to know Him.
SHOWING GOD’S lOVE TOWARDS EACH OTHER
…and love your neighbor as yourself
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
In the law of love we show our love towards others by how we act towards them. If you love someone you will not lie to them or about them, steal from them, and commit adultery with them or against them. The root comes down to the last commandment: covetousness.
When we desire something that someone else has it can cause us to all kind of strange things. I read that people were given a choice between getting money for free or having to pay money in taxes but a “rich person” would have to pay the same amount in tax (I think the number was $50, but I’m not sure) most people chose to pay the tax! They were so covetous about the other person’s wealth that they chose to pay rather than get so that someone else would have to pay! Are we acting any better towards our brother Christians by our actions? I cannot answer that for you, but based on what I have seen, we all need to work on this.
We need to work on this by making sure we are saved and have a relationship with God. We need to make sure all our actions are motivated by love and building up others and not exulting ourselves by tearing one another down.
[i] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.