The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
What is the purpose of God’s law and commandments?
The Pharisees prided themselves in the knowledge of the law of Moses and the ritual requirements of the law.
They made it a life-time practice to study the 613 precepts of the Torah – the books of the Old Testament containing the Law of Moses – along with the numerous rabbinic commentaries on the law. The religious authorities tested Jesus to see if he correctly understood the law as they did. Jesus startled them with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. God’s love rules all Jesus summarized the whole of the law in two great commandments found in Deuteronomy 6:5 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” – and Leviticus 19:18 – “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. God’s love directs all that he does – His love is holy, just, and pure because it seeks only what is good, beneficial, and life-giving – rather than what is destructive, evil, or deadly. That is why he commands us to love – to accept and to give only what is good, lovely, just, and pure and to reject whatever is contrary.
God puts us first in his thoughts God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us (1 John 3:1, 4:7-8, 16). God puts us first in his thoughts and concerns – do we put him first in our thoughts? God loved us first (1 John 4:19) and our love for him is a response to his exceeding goodness and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first and the love of neighbor is firmly grounded in the love of God. The more we know of God’s love, truth, and goodness, the more we love what he loves and reject whatever is hateful and contrary to his will. God commands us to love him first above all else – his love orients and directs our thoughts, intentions, and actions to what is wholly good and pleasing to him. He wants us to love him personally, wholeheartedly, and without any reservation or compromise.
The nature of love – giving to others for their sake What is the nature of love? Love is the gift of giving oneself for the good of others – it is wholly other oriented and directed to the welfare and benefit of others. Love which is rooted in pleasing myself is self-centered and possessive – it is a selfish love that takes from others rather than gives to others. It is a stunted and disordered love which leads to many hurtful and sinful desires – such as jealousy, greed, envy, and lust. The root of all sin is disordered love and pride which is fundamentally putting myself above God and my neighbor – it is loving and serving self rather than God and neighbor. True love, which is wholly directed and oriented to what is good rather than evil, is rooted in God’s truth and righteousness (moral goodness).
How God loves us God loves us wholly, completely, and perfectly for our sake – there is no limit, no holding back, no compromising on his part. His love is not subject to changing moods or circumstances. When God gives, he gives generously, abundantly, freely, and without setting conditions to the gift of his love. His love does not waver, but is firm, consistent, and constant. He loves us in our weakness – in our fallen and sinful condition. That is why the Father sent his only begotten Son to redeem us from slavery to sin and its disordered cravings, desires, passions, and addictions. God the Father always seeks us out to draw us to his throne of mercy and help. God the Father corrects and disciplines us in love to free us from the error of our wrong ways of thinking and choosing what is harmful and wrong rather than choosing what is good and wholesome for us. Do you freely accept God’s love and do you willingly choose to obey his commandments?
We do not earn God’s love – it is freely given How can we possibly love God above all else and obey his commandments willingly and joyfully, and how can we love our neighbor and willing lay down our life for their sake? Paul the Apostle tells us that “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). We do not earn God’s love – it is freely given to those who open their heart to God and who freely accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his love through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Love grows with faith and hope What makes our love for God and his commands grow in us? Faith in God and hope in his promises strengthens us in the love of God. They are essential for a good relationship with God, for being united with him. The more we know of God the more we love him and the more we love him the greater we believe and hope in his promises. The Lord Jesus, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, gives us a new freedom to love as he loves. Paul the Apostle writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free… only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh [sinful inclinations], but through love be servants of one another” (Galatians 5:1,13). Do you allow anything to keep you from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart?
“Lord Jesus, your love surpasses all. Flood my heart with your love and increase my faith and hope in your promises. Help me to give myself in generous service to others as you have so generously given yourself to me.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
LOVE LOVE “I love You, O Lord.” Psalm 18:2 God is Love (1 Jn 4:8, 16). Because He is Love, we are in the image of Love, for we were created in His image (Gn 1:27). Because He is Love, our sins against Him are very serious so serious that the nature of all human beings was wounded due to the first sin. Because He is Love, God gave us the opportunity to become new creations (see Jn 3:3, 5; Gal 6:15) by giving us His Son (Jn 3:16). Because God is Love, He became a human being to die on the cross and rise from the dead for our salvation. Love became flesh (see Jn 1:14). Love had nails driven into Him and thorns pressed into Him. Love became a bloody mess, brutally rejected and gasping for breath. Love was buried; Love rose; and Love is enthroned in heaven forever. Because Love first loved us, we love Love (1 Jn 4:19). By His grace, we love Love with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Lk 10:27; Mt 22:37). We love Love by loving ourselves, our neighbors (Mt 22:37-39), and even our enemies (Mt 5:44). We live in Love (Jn 15:10). Love LOVE.
#Prayer: Lord and Love, may I live in You and You in me (1 Jn 4:16). Promise: “You turned to God from idols, to serve Him Who is the living and true God and to await from heaven the Son He raised from the dead Jesus, Who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thes 1:9-10
Praise: Praise Jesus, our risen Lord and Love! He has taken “His seat at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, as far superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs” (Heb 1:3-4). Alleluia! (For a related teaching, order our tape on Divine Love on audio AV 52-3 or video V-52.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014.Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 24, 2014. The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements