Good day! :)
I continue to be amazed at the "love of love" in the culture and interestingly, within the Christian Church. The world pushes against the Kingdom of God using the "all we need is love" mantra...loving health care, loving same-sex adults, etc...and we in the church fall right in line. So many seem to be "in love with love." But for the Christian, love has teeth. What I mean is love is tethered to Scripture; it must be lawful. So let's chew on this:
Does love cover a mulitude of sins? Yep. It forgives when wronged, which is what that means. Is love the highest virtue? Yes. But again, what is love? Is God love? He sure is...but again, Scripture tells us how God loves, who He loves, and what He hates and despises as well.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 42 states: “What is the essence of the Ten Commandments?” The answer is, “The essence of the Ten Commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and to love everyone else as we love ourselves.”
Bingo! Love, both towards God and towards others, must be lawful. If not, it can mean ANYTHING. Love is more than a smile or a tender voice. Love is patient and kind, but love also rejoices in truth (1 Cor 13:4-6). I believe everything Christ did He did out of love for the Father and love for us. Sometimes that love healed. Sometimes that love encouraged. But sometimes that love challenged and rebuked. It was always however, tethered to the Law of God...the ethical standards of God.
The Sermon of the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) is a good example. In it we find wonderful things like the true definition of blessings and the command to love our enemies, but we also see a magnifying of the Law, taking the standards up a notch (adultery can be done with the eyes, unlawful anger equals murder, and stronger standards on divorce).
Paul said it wonderfully:
Romans 13:8-10 ESV - Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (9) For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (10) Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
To love others as ourselves is to love them according to the Commandments. This is true, powerful, biblical love my friends...the kind of love that will both encourage AND expose, demonstrate care and promote Spirit-conviction. When Jesus gave the Commandments to the rich young ruler, and challenged him to the point he walked away, it was because He "loved him." (Mark 10:21) Amen Lord Jesus.