The law of love

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Over the next few readings we’re looking at love. The Bible teaches us that we are only able to love because God first loved us. Rest in his love for a while, thinking about how he has shown his love for you.

Image of the Day

Bible passage Romans 13:8–14

Love, for the Day is Near
 8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

 11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Paying your debts...
We ended yesterday with the observation that what we owe someone isn’t necessarily the same as what they deserve, and here we have a continuation of that theme.

A debt is something I owe to someone having first received it from them, but in God’s economy, the debt of love is not like that. I don’t owe you love based on the love you have shown to me; I owe it to you based on the love God has shown to me. My debt is owed to him, but he asks me to pay it to you.

...but not to the Lender
I could never repay the incredible love he has lavished upon me, but he doesn’t ask me to – what he wants is that I ‘pay it forward’ – that I love others with the same selfless, sacrificial, all-consuming love. And when I do that, I will fulfil all the requirements of the law without even trying.


We can never keep God’s law simply by trying hard. The miracle and the mystery is that our obedience doesn’t start with us, it starts with God. Continue to ponder how much he loves you, and you’ll find your heart is far more able to love others as he loves them.

Jennie Pollock

Deeper Bible study

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37–40)

Paul’s words in verses 8–10 follow on closely from his theme in chapter 12 about Christian living and, like those words, are reminiscent of Jesus’ moral teaching. Love for God is closely linked with, and indeed verified by, love for neighbour. In principle, love is about avoiding doing harm to others. In practice it means avoiding adultery, murder, stealing, covetousness and anything else that falls short of a fully loving life. All of this makes clear that Christian living involves far more than keeping a number of rules (though these can help): it is about attitude, disposition, character and virtue. What we do springs from the kind of people we are, and what we are is determined by our capacity for love.

‘Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ’ (v 14). It is through these very words that the church father and theologian Augustine was converted from the kind of life described in verses 12 and 13. The image of putting on Christ like a set of clothes is a strange one. It may here be associated with baptism – in preparing for baptism one set of clothes is removed, those that speak of spiritual and moral darkness. After being buried with Christ in baptism another set of clothes is put on, those that are full of light and decency. It is in being one with Christ that this new way of living becomes possible. Christians now live as those who have wakened from slumber, for whom the night of sin has passed and the light has dawned. It is important not to lose the urgency and immediacy of verse 11 by lapsing into sleep.

When it comes to sin and righteousness the New Testament gets very specific. Why is this so? It is to provide clarity, that we may examine ourselves, embracing the good and refusing the bad.

Nigel Wright

Bible background: The Day of the Lord

Use by the Old Testament prophets
‘The Day of the Lord’ was an expression used by many of the writing prophets, at least since the time of Amos in the eighth century BC, to refer to ‘the day of the LORD’s anger’ (Zephaniah 2:2). Joel speaks of how God will ‘judge all the nations on every side’ because of their great ‘wickedness’ (Joel 3:12,13). So he warns that ‘the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision’, as cosmic calamity unfolds (3:14–16).

The people expected that this would be a day of judgement on Israel’s enemies, when God’s anger would be poured out on them for their sins of rejecting the Lord and attacking his people. But Amos warns those who ‘long for the day of the Lord’ that it will be ‘darkness, not light’ for them – God is not pleased with their offerings and worship because of the lack of justice and righteousness in their common life (Amos 5:18–24).

Use in the New Testament
The fact that in the New Testament the expression ‘The day of the Lord’ is consistently used with reference to Christ rather than God, as in the Old Testament, is a testimony to the ease and naturalness with which they accepted the deity of Christ. The term is used with reference to the Second Coming of Christ, bringing punishment for the wicked and salvation for his holy people (2 Thessalonians 1:5–10; see 2:2).


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Isaiah 10–12

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I want to serve the purpose of God (In my generation)
Mark Altrogge
Copyright © 1982 People of Destiny International/Word Music
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Love rain down
Kat Regester
Copyright© 2010 Vineyard Song (UK/Eire)
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  • Rachael Hampton | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Jealousy. Quarrelling. The lists of sins to avoid in NT writings are are always interesting. Sometimes, especially lately, you'd think the only sins related to sexuality. V 14 Make no provision for indulging the flesh - put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature to gratify its desires (lusts.) Amp. In her latter years, my mum needed to watch her weight. She said to me when we arrived to visit, 'I don't make sweet things any more. If they are here I will eat them!' Ha. Don't we know that feeling. Lord, help me to make no provision for desires that are sinful and not in love. RUTH C - a week away sounds good. Praying CAROL as you wait the scan results, and PETER as you wait for heart tests. GILVIN, thanks for submission-obedience comment. Very helpful. Blessings all.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    v14 'do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.' Instead of focusing on all the dos and don’ts, we need to focus on God’s kind of love and then it will begin to rule in our hearts and we will automatically meet the requirements of the Law. My prayer often is 'Thank you that you never give up on me. Thank you I'm a working progress.' RACHAEL, yes we've all been there. Eaten it because we think we'll be satisfied once it's gone! Temptation is linked to what we think on. If we don’t think on things that engender temptation, we won’t be tempted and won’t sin.

  • Angela Munday | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Behave appropriately...don't make excuses (verses 13&14). Jesus shows us the new way to live; its rules bring goodness and joy to all. I believe that here at Wordlive, we 'clothe' ourselves as we read together and we then go out into the world with Jesus in our hearts. "Jesus reigns, our wonderful King of Heaven." Praise to You, our God. Amen.

  • Roger Hall | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    There is a great rightness in comments this morning. Thanks very much and bless you all. I love dipping in to take in more comment.

  • Allan Winsor | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    "In principle, love is about avoiding doing harm to others" (deeper bible study first paragraph) -surely the love that we show to others in response to God's love to us has to be so much more than that.

  • Tim Berry | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Welcome ALLAN. I think that the avoiding harm comment referred to the list of things that we are to avoid such as adultery, stealing, coveting and murder which all harm others. We would then need to think about all the loving things that we can do by concentrating on the amazing love that God has lavished on us. That is tough, because it asks that we love those that we would find it very hard to love. I then think that when I sin, I am an enemy of God and in those terms hard to love. Then what does He do? He looks on me with love and sends His own Son to pay the price for my sin. Now that is LOVE IN ACTION.

  • Eileen Smith | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    GILVIN-- my apologies-- when clicking -- as I planned to on see more on RACHEL's comment I clicked instead on the inappropriate button! Not intended --(WL please ignore -thank you)'

  • Derek Forster | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    All for Jesus, all for Jesus! All my being’s ransomed pow’rs: All my thoughts and words and doings, All my days and all my hours. Let my hands perform His bidding, Let my feet run in His ways; Let my eyes see Jesus only, Let my lips speak forth His praise. Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus, I’ve lost sight of all beside, So enchained my spirit’s vision, Looking at the Crucified. O what wonder! how amazing! Jesus, glorious King of kings, Deigns to call me His beloved, Lets me rest beneath His wings.

  • Roland Morris | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    All for Jesus! So encouraging!

  • Roland Morris | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Wrong link.... Should be I couldnt out a tune to the words of thexsing

  • Roland Morris | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    I should add that for me singing (even 'inwardly') the words of a hymn adds much to its spiritual impact. I google searched this as I knew neither the words nor possible tunes.

  • Hugh Skeil | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Allan - I agree with you. Love is seeking the other person's highest good, even at cost to ourselves. I wrote this in my journal: Keeping the law can be seen as quite negative or passive: refraining from doing certain things. Love on the other hand is a very active pursuit - we are called to positive action for the benefit of others, as well as not doing things which will hurt them (like murder, theft and adultery). So not only does love fulfill the law, it honours the reason behind the law and goes to the next level to create loving human relationships and a society where everyone is safe, respected and cherished.

  • Ruth Lewis | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Amen, TIM!!!

  • Rosemary Fairweather | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    Following the example of the Prince of Peace means choosing love over aggression, revenge, hate and violence. That is why Christianity is revolutionary. It goes against our base self centred nature to love as He loved us. We try but fail (As Gilvin says, we are works in progress). How great is it therefore that God understands yet still loves us! Amazingly, we are loved, and as a result we can't help but seeking relationship with God with our heart, soul, mind and body and reflecting his love back to others. It is only possible for sinners like us because of Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s spirit refreshing us daily.

  • David Chipchase | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    As a carer, more and more frequently I am finding the caring to be very draining. In the light of this, I found the comments in "Explore" to be battery charging inspirational.

  • Peter Oliver | Thursday, 07 September 2017

    PAUL mentions the armour a few times EPH chapter6 Thesaloneas ch5 Let's make sure we are wearing it 24 7 so that the enemey can't get in..Sorry for spelling mistakes.

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