We live in a rule-based world. Laws of the land govern our freedoms and limitations in an attempt to maintain order in society. Without speed limits, more car accidents would likely occur. Without tickets and citations, more people would engage in dangerous acts resulting in life-altering consequences. The crimes we see today would seem minuscule in comparison. Laws are vital and should definitely be followed. But there is a force that far surpasses that of law; it’s the force of love. The power of love is often misunderstood by people because most individuals don’t truly understand what love is. Think about it-- there wouldn’t be any need for rules if they did!
The reason for this is because God IS Love. And unless you understand the nature of God and His love for mankind, you will not be able to give love in its fullest capacity. Because of God’s great love for you, He sent His one and only son to be crucified so that you could have an abundant and eternal life. Throughout the Old Testament, the nations were governed solely by laws. But since the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s focus has shifted to the supremacy of love over the law. From that point forward, it became more about relationship and the ability to reconcile relationships. It became more about following His example of love for others as a way of showing love for Him. To God, obedience is better than sacrifice. And the greatest command He’s given for us to obey is to love (Matthew 22:37-39).
So why is it so hard to do?
The reason it’s so hard to love others is because people have an innate, humanistic desire to think about themselves first. It doesn’t come natural for most people to be selfless. It’s a mindset that must be taught and practiced. And it must come genuinely from the heart (Romans 12:9). Love leaves no room for pride and therefore acts with humility. As such, it does not discriminate and always honors others first (Romans 12:10), regardless of position of authority. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t operate with authority, it simply means you remember whose authority you’re under.
It’s especially difficult to love others when you feel that they don’t deserve it. In the book of Romans, an entire subchapter is written on love and speaks about this scenario. We are reminded in verses 17-21 that it is not our job to repay evil for evil. On the contrary, it says that if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is what love does. It does what is not deserved. It gives without expecting anything in return. Only a mind renewed by the Holy Spirit could possibly do this (Romans 12:2) and is evidence of love in its most powerful form.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees several times for being more concerned about spreading their religious doctrine than they were about maintaining the truth (Matthew 23:13, 37-39). They spoke and taught as if they knew God well; yet did not practice what they preached. They were quick to rebuke and condemn anyone who did not follow their rules, while missing the spirit of God’s truth and love altogether. God is not about condemning but forgiving. He knows that once people “taste and see His goodness (Psalm 34:8),” they will be more willing to change their ways.
For this reason, Jesus told his listeners to respect the scribes and Pharisees because of their authoritative positions, but not to emulate them due to their heart conditions. I believe the same applies today. While law is a necessity, love is a priority.