Footsteps to follow: The love of God
A lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38). So … how do we love the Lord our God? What do we do? Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. … Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, … And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:15, 21b, 23, 24b). Jesus also said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).
Therefore, according to Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy 6, to love God is to obey His commandments and we can rightly say not only The Great Commandment, but also the Ten Commandments and all of God’s word in Scripture.
God takes the matter of disobedience very seriously; it results in the most serious consequence-death. “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations, and requites to their face those who hate Him, by destroying them” (Deuteronomy 7:7-10a).
Therefore, we are to live in accordance with God’s commandments and not take lightly or disregard those with which we may disagree. We may want God’s “love” to be permissive and all embracing, allowing us to live as we may choose; however, to love God is to obey His commandments.
Although Jesus taught much about compassion, empathy, love and forgiveness; He also said, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; … For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19a).
God’s law is as applicable to us today as it was in the time of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Paul, or Martin Luther. Contrary to some contemporary viewpoints, God is not revising His commandments or creating something new because humanity has become enlightened by science, medicine, or social evolution.
God, who created all that is, foreknew the ever-current state of humankind and formulated His Law and Gospel to be applicable in all times and places. The Commandments are timeless, both law and gospel, the good news of Christ Jesus and if we truly love God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–we will keep His commandments, which are not burdensome.
Letscher is the pastor at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, NALC, Montoursville.