The Law Hangs on Love

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22: 38-40

An important understanding to have when you read this scripture is that “your neighbor” goes beyond just the couple of people you live next to; your neighbor is anyone you come in contact with throughout your day. Therefore, Jesus is telling us that one of the greatest commandments is to love EVERY person you come in contact with. And not only that we should simply do this, but that ALL THE LAW AND PROPHETS hang on us doing so. But what exactly does Jesus mean when he says “all the law and prophets hang on these two commandments?”

The simple answer is, how we uphold the law, and how we walk in the declarations the prophets made many years ago, all must be done out of a genuine place of love for God and the people in front of us. I feel like often in American Christianity, we become polarized; it’s either this rigid, strict law that stems from self-righteousness and condemnation, or this ultra grace, God-doesn’t-care-what-we-do-because-He-loves-us mentality. However, the truth is, neither of these ends of the spectrum are what God has asked of us. Neither of these ways of living are acting out of genuine love for anyone because they are either enabling or divisive in their nature.

Love requires correction and confrontation, but in a way that extends grace, forgiveness, and compassion. Love requires us to gently call people into the way of life God has called us to live, because we know that He has only asked us to live in a way that will ultimately be best for us. However, accountability must be used in love, not condemnation. We must look at others through the lens of their God-given identity, as children of God, and extend grace. We must understand that absolutely nothing can change that truth about them and therefore any approach towards them should be made through the lens of familial love.

The law hangs on love for God and love for others because upholding the law is how we get to demonstrate this love in our actions. Out of love we get to be obedient to God. Out of love we honor Jesus and our leaders and our peers. Out of love we serve each individual we encounter. We pour out grace and love to all. Our commitment should be to walk in love in a way that we hold favor with our community because we are humbly serving and gently guiding with compassion as Jesus did.

None of our actions and crazy spiritual encounters matter if they lack love. Our love should serve as a living sacrifice every day to Jesus. We should be honored to lay our lives down and walk in obedience with Him, bringing as many people with us as we can - because that is selflessly loving your neighbor. We should serve others as if God has placed them in our path to glorify and serve Him. Our hearts should be ones of flesh ready to turn towards the Lord at all times and catch His heart and opinions of anyone and anything around us.

The prophets all along prophesied of Jesus, and Jesus is love. God has been speaking for us to establish ourselves in the way of love from the beginning of time. And lucky for us we get the perfect example of how to do this. When we model our lives the way Jesus did, in every matter, we get to model the love that the prophets spoke of. Jesus served everyone who came to Him, He walked with tax collectors, who were the lowest of the low, and He humbled himself to eat with sinners and walk with the broken and needy every day. Jesus also upheld the law and lived to love God through His obedience. So when we humbly walk in love, and walk with those who are in need, those who are different than us, and those who may even irritate us, we are walking in alignment with what the prophets spoke of; and when we submit to the Lord and obey his commands as an active demonstration of our love for Him, we will be able to joyfully uphold the law and teach others to do the same.  

Author | Tori Kramer

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