By Allen White
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10
Some of us have lived under the tyranny of a religion that said, “Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t even think about doing that other thing.” Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Dah, dah, dah. See it doesn’t work.
As Maxwell Maltz puts it, “Glance at negatives, but focus on positives.” If I love another person, then, guess what? I’m not going to envy them or steal their spouse or hate them. We don’t do things like that to people that we love.
Rather than trying hard to abstain, we must fill the void with something positive. Over-focusing on avoiding negatives, leaves us constantly thinking about negatives. Nothing positive can come out of that. It’s sort of like being on a diet and thinking about all of the things you can’t eat. Not a lot of weight loss going on there.
The Law and legalism can bog us down. What am I supposed to watch? What can I say? What can I not say? How much am I supposed to give? Do I tithe off of the gross or the net? If I can get away with it, is it okay?
The fulfillment of the law is a four letter word – L-O-V-E. What am I supposed to watch? Answer: Love. What does someone else want to watch? Maybe we should just turn the thing off and spend time with someone we love.
What should I say or not say? Answer: Love. How can I show this person that I love them by what I say or what I don’t say? Love doesn’t insult. But, we are also to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Am I holding back on something that I need to say because I want to avoid a negative reaction? Am I holding back on the last 10 percent of positive feedback I should give someone? How can I love this person with my words?
You get the picture. The question is not “What is the right thing to do?” The question we should be asking is “What is the loving thing to do?”
If I truly care about the other person, what should I do for them? If I don’t care about the person, then why should I feel that I’m right with God? You might object and say, “But, you don’t know what they did to me? You don’t know what they said about me?”
Look at what we did to God. At some point, we were (or are) God’s enemy (James 4:4). We sinned against God. We violated His character. We disobeyed. We failed. Yet, how does God respond to us? God responds with love and forgiveness and the desire to reconcile with us.
If God can get passed all of that with us, then what is keeping us from forgiving others? What is blocking our ability to truly love them? If you lack what it takes, ask God to help you love them.
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