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It is said of Atlas that “he held up the world on his shoulders.” That may have been a famous saying in Greek mythology, but in the real world it is love that carries the world on its shoulders. As short a word as it might be, love is like a picture—it is worth a thousand words.

When a very sharp lawyer among the Pharisees challenged Jesus to state the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:34–40), he probably expected Jesus to pull out one of the Ten Commandments. After all, the Ten Commandments were God’s own summary of his moral laws.

Yet when Jesus responded, He pulled out two passages from different parts of the Torah. The first was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5).

The second was, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Jesus went on to make the astounding statement that on these two commandments from the Torah hang all the Law and the Prophets, that is, the entire teaching of the Old Testament.

Notice how both passages have love right at their center. The greatest commandment demands from us love for God, and the second demands from us love for others. Jesus was making the point that where love is missing, outward obedience to God’s law is a mere farce.

When the Apostle Paul came on the scene, he was equally convinced about the vital place of love in the Christian faith. Using his characteristic overstatements to drive home the point, he warned the Christians living in Corinth of the danger that they were in if they lacked love.

Paul wrote: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1–3). Nothing can be clearer than that.

By now you must be asking the obvious question: “How do I know if I am a truly loving person?” Thankfully, love is very practical. It is a commitment to the welfare of others. So, you do not need a love-o-meter to know how loving you are. God is our example.

One of the most famous verses in the Bible reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . .” (John 3:16). In fact, the greatest tribute given to love are the words, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). So, instead of navel-gazing, let us get out there and imitate Him. 

A Faithless Bride of God

Grace for God’s Adulterous Bride

Keep Reading The Thirteenth Century

From the September 2013 Issue
Sep 2013 Issue