One Command Encompasses All Others

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well (James 2:8).
In a style reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Old Testament wisdom literature, the Epistle of James distills great practical truths into plain and straightforward statements.
The principle quoted from the Law of Moses “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), is denoted as “the royal law”. Some modern theorists have attempted to use this primacy of love to set aside other commands recorded in Scripture.
The rule of love stands above the other commandments, however, not in the sense of setting the others aside but in the sense of encompassing the other commandments. As the apostle Paul explains:
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:8-10).
The Bible provides many commands to explain and clarify what sort of life we ought to live in response to the love of God. These commands are not in contrast to the way of love, they are the embodiment of God’s love directing our lives.
Much trendy religion paints the Christian message in terms of self-indulgent gratification. Nothing could be further from the truth. Love, as commanded in Scripture, is always self-denying, never self-affirming. Love is described in terms of what the one who loves must not do. The way of love is the way of the cross – a focus on serving others, not on being served.

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Greg Tidwell

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