The Most Ignored ‘New’ Commandment of Jesus
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments…are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’”
– Romans 13:8-9
The Ten Commandments can be divided into two parts (Probably that’s why it was written on Two Tablets). The first four commandments are about our relationship with God. The last six commandments are about our relationship with humans.
The 10 Commandments, at their core, are all about love. Jesus Christ summarized all of God’s laws in two great commandments.
“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”
Notice what apostle Paul says on summing up of the commandments:
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.
If you truly love your neighbor as yourself, you will not steal, lie, kill, or covet what is your neighbor’s. When you wrong your neighbour, you are actually placing your needs above God’s word. If you really love the Lord with all of your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, you naturally want to do the right thing. In both ways, walking in love keeps you from sin. Failure to love often leads you into other sins.
The Problem With The Commands
The commands are the perfect and true expression of the will of God, but they do not have the power to generate what they command because what the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.
Ashley Null is a scholar on Thomas Cranmer and said this about God’s commands and our hearts: “According to Cranmer, what the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies. The mind doesn’t direct the will. The mind is actually captive to what the will wants, and the will itself, in turn, is captive to what the heart wants.
The trouble with human nature is that we are born with a heart that loves ourselves over and above everything else in this world, including God. In short, we are born slaves to the lust for self-gratification. That’s why, if left to ourselves, we will always love those things that make us feel good about ourselves, even as we depart more and more from God and his ways. Therefore, God must intervene in our lives in order to bring salvation.
Working through Scripture, the Holy Spirit first brings a conviction of sin in a believer’s heart, then He births a living faith by which the believer lays hold of the righteousness of Christ.”
The story of Israel and our own lives proves that the perfection demanded by God’s law cannot be fulfilled without God Himself intervening to help us. The Ten Commandments expose our sin and selfish behavior but it doesn’t have the power to change us or free us from sin.
The law cannot fix what it has broken. The power to fix only lies with Jesus.
Jesus Gave a ‘New’ Commandment
Notice Jesus in John 13:34 speaks about “a new commandment.”
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Earlier we learned that love is the summary of all commandments. How then is this command to love “NEW”?
Jesus called these commandments ‘new’ because it teaches us to:
1. Abide first in His love.
2. Learn from His example of “how-to” love
1. Abide First In His Love
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19
Our love is only a response to God’s love for us. It’s the nature of the fallen mind to love itself before anyone else. We can’t love God the way we should unless we have first been reborn of Him and receive His abundant grace.
Under grace, because Jesus dwells in us, we first allow ourselves to be filled with His love.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Can you see Jesus is clearly stating here that we cannot bear fruit unless we are drawing from His source of unlimited supply? He cherishes us regardless of who we are because His love isn’t reliant on what we do but on Himself.
Once we have intimately experienced His unconditional love and been transformed by His spirit, extending the same love to others comes more effortlessly to us.
2. Learn From His Example of “How-To” Love
As humans, we often rely on our ‘feelings’ to extend love to others. When we find it hard to love someone, we desire them to change. This shows that we care about loving someone only when they fit into our comfort zone. But this isn’t how God loves us.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11
John begins with the phrase “not that we loved God”. God loved us first despite knowing our innermost selfish thoughts. Even when we were undeserving wretches who didn’t love Him back, He chose to die for us. He didn’t wait for us to attain perfection to be able to love us. Therefore, Jesus in His new commandment asks us to extend love to others even when they are unworthy because God loved us even when we were unworthy.
Jesus despite being the Lord, served even the wicked as a lowly servant. God, the king of the universe Himself, washed the apostles’ feet! Similarly, God calls us to set aside our pride and serve others with love. Again, you cannot love someone if you are forcing yourself to. Unless you abide in the Lord and draw from His love, you will struggle to extend love by relying on your own strength.
If you are finding it hard to love a difficult person, ask the Lord for help, “Lord, by myself, I’m weak and unable to love this person. But I am in You, and You are in me. And in You, I am strong. You do not lack love, even for the unloveable. Help me love this person as a carrier of your love.”
Christ’s love is not just pardon for our sins. It’s also the power to overcome our weaknesses. Stay focused on Him for your every need.
Growing In Love Is a Lifelong Process
As soon as we are saved, we don’t suddenly start loving everyone perfectly. Growing in love is a process that takes time.
When we are saved, our spirits are made new. Being saved is a lifelong process of relying on the Holy Spirit to align the change that has taken place in our spirit to manifest in our flesh. There will be occasional slipping into selfishness. We all fail at times. But instead of feeling condemned, we now rejoice in Christ’s unconditional love for us and continue extending love to others as Christ’s disciples of light on this earth. Amen.