Fulfilling the law

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Romans 13:10 says, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.”

God never intended anybody to try to relate to him through the “works of the law”; he always wanted to have a relationship of love with us where we do things for him just because we love him, not because we have to.

Love goes way beyond the law. If you were married to someone, would you want them to relate to you through a list of rules and things they ought to do for you, or would you want them to just love you? Someone who loves will go way beyond what the law ever required them to do anyway. There are things that love does that you could never enforce with rules and regulations.

True holiness and goodness is all about loving God and people. What people often think of as being “good” is not God’s idea of goodness at all. Giving all of your money to the poor and dying as a martyr looks pretty good, but the act has no value in itself – only if it is done out of a heart of genuine love (1 Corinthians 13:3).

The Pharisees thought they were pretty holy, and they looked down on everybody else. But all their “goodness” was a stench in God’s nostrils. The reason why is because no action is good by itself, in some abstract kind of way. What makes it good is if it is done out of love.

People can think, “But if you take away the rules, what will people do?” The rules are no good anyway. The law provokes sin (Romans 7:7-9) and makes you its slave (Romans 6:14), and doesn’t produce a life that is pleasing to God. He is looking for a relationship, not a whole lot of people who are bound by rules.

But when you take away the rules and all you are left with is love, people will start to do what they wanted to do anyway – to love God and do what he loves. God has placed his “new life” in us, which wants to do what pleases God. Take away the restraints, and his life will come bubbling up and start to overflow from within us, just as Jesus promised (John 7:38).

For reflection:

The law cannot possibly cover every single situation you find yourself in. There needs to be a general principle to guide our actions – which is love.

There are also situations where we we lack wisdom, and we need to listen to God to find out what to do. No law could ever work in this case, because God may want us to do two different things in two identical looking circumstances, depending on information only he knows. More is needed than a rule for every kind of situation.

God never wanted robots who just follow orders; he wanted children who want to be like him:

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

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