I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 2 John 1:5
A while back a friend asked me, “What was the largest mountain in the world before Mt. Everest was discovered?” I don’t really know my mountains so I gave up. They said, “Mt. Everest.” Of course Mt. Everest was the largest mountain in the world even before it was discovered. The mountain was not new, it had been there the whole time before it was discovered. Likewise the command that we love one another is no new commandment even though it might be a new concept to some.
Many believe that the Old Testament is all about “the law” while the New Testament is all about grace. Fact is in Genesis 3 we find Jesus giving Adam and Eve love and grace when He promised them a Savior hundreds of years before the Ten Commandments were given in Exodus 20. Love has been there all along. In Romans 13:10, Paul says, “therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.” In Galatians 5:14 Paul says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” James says in James 2:8, “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson says, “It’s one thing to keep the Ten Commandments; it’s another thing to love other people. What’s the difference? Which is easier to do, and why?”
Many say we don’t need the Ten Commandments; we just need to love each other. Well what does it mean to love each other? The Ten Commandments define love for us. Love is honoring your parents and being true to your spouse. Love is being honest with your neighbor and not harming them or their character by slander. Love is simply putting others first, and the Ten Commandments tell us how to put God first in the first four commands and then how to put our neighbor first in the last six commands. In Ephesians 5 Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. The principle here is others first. You don’t have to feel butterflies in your stomach and get all gooey and emotional when you see your spouse, but you do need to put their needs before your needs. Putting the needs of others first is what love is. Over the years I have had people ask me if it is okay to have sex on the Sabbath. I always tell them, if you are doing it to please your spouse then it is okay, if you are doing it to please yourself then it is wrong any day of the week. This has blown a couple of men away. But the only way to make love is put the other person first. When you are having relations with your spouse to please yourself, you are not making love, you are making lust! When Jesus says if you lust after a woman you have committed adultery that woman can be your own wife! Because when you lust after her you have just put yourself and your needs before her needs. You are not thinking about what you can do for her, but by lusting you are thinking of what she can do for you and you have just made yourself first. Love is others first. Lust is putting self first. Now here is something the world does not understand, including the two men who were blown away by my answer, lust is the same thing as hate. In 2 Samuel 13:15 Amnon forces a woman and the Bible says he hated her. Why? Because lust is self first, which means others last which is the opposite of love.
The Ten Commandments teach us how to avoid lust and hate by following one simple rule, others first, which is love. Again when Jesus tells us to love our enemies He is not telling us we must have some emotional bond with them and go golfing or fishing with them every Sunday morning. We love our enemies by praying for their blessings and putting their welfare before our own. The Ten Commandments again define that love for us. The Commandments define how to put God, family and others first.
So both the Ten Commandments and love have been around all along just like Mt. Everest. Now here is another parting thought that may blow you away. I heard it from Whitley Phipps, a famous singer. He said and I believe, “The love we have for God is no stronger than the love we have for the person we love the least.” Think about it.