Sometimes we juxtapose the law and love. We often wonder whether we should be loving in a given situation or whether we should be obedient to a command. We see love as something that exists best in freedom from regulation of any kind, something that can only be done with raw, unhinged emotion. And we see obedience to the law and commands as devoid of the emotion of love, we see it as legalism.
The Bible makes no such juxtaposition. Love and law are sisters not opposites.
"This is love for God: to obey His commands." 1 John 5:3a
John says that in order to love God we must obey His commands. In fact, Jesus is recorded as saying a very similar thing in the book of John. Obedience is love for God. Obedience is not dry, empty servitude; no, obedience is an act of love and trust.
And obedience isn't only the benchmark for loving God, it also is the benchmark for loving people.
"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?'
The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31
When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment He expertly condensed the whole of the law (613 laws by some historians' count by Jesus' day) into two laws: love God, love people. The teachers of the law ranked commands so they could know what to do when two principles seemingly conflicted. In ranking these two commands as greatest Jesus said that love for God and for others is the filter through which the whole of the law is to be run.
Pastor Tim Keller summarizes it well when he said: "Jesus shows us that love actually defines the lawful life, and He shows that us that the law actually defines the loving life."
To be obedient to God is to love and to love God and others is to be obedient to God. The law is not dry and passionless, rather it is soaked in love. Love is not wild and without direction, rather it is guided by the law.
Love and law are sisters that help us glorify God and benefit our neighbors. Next time you see a command of Scripture view it as a way to love God and others. When you seek to love God and/or others well look for Biblical commands and principles to guide your love today.