The Love Problem

The Love Problem
Robert Wurtz II

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:9-10).

We can see in Paul’s list of “Thou shalt not(s)” the #7, #6, #8, #9 and #10 of the Ten Commandments. The “other commandment” is taken from Leviticus, which reads; “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18 NKJV) Paul then adds, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” 

It is fascinating that Paul would add this teaching to everything he says in the book of Romans. It reminds me of how he inserted the “love chapter” into a teaching on spiritual gifts when writing to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 13). What use it is to be a great theologian who could expound the book of Romans and not love our neighbor? What would it profit a person to operate in the gifts of the Spirit and not have love for their neighbor? these sound like very basic questions; but they are of the utmost importance. Nothing else matters if we do not love our neighbor. 

Jesus spent a great deal of time expressing the importance of loving everyone, including our enemies. Many years ago I took five semesters of Mosiac law. I learned that there are, according to the Rabbis, 613 laws in the Old Covenant (365 negative “don’t” and 248 positive “do”). We studied each and every one of those laws. There are things we must not do (negative command) in order to love and there are things we must do (positive command) in order to love. This is the positive and negative aspect to love. The question becomes, “who is our neighbor?” The New International Bible Commentary passes this comment:

“The debt of love is categorical and admits of no exceptions. In Buddhism love is a rather dispassionate feeling of benevolence toward humanity in general, though much less is said of its expression toward particular individuals. Not so in Christianity. Agapeä (God’s kind of love) is not an abstract concept; it is a will in search of an object. Four times Paul identifies that object as one another (Romans 13:8), fellowman (v. 8), and neighbor (twice in vv. 9–10). The other person represents God’s claim on our love. We normally think of our neighbor as a person who is like us, but in the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and Final Judgment (Matt. 25:31-46) the neighbor is very much unlike us. Others are our neighbors not because they are like us, not even because they are chosen by us, but because they are given to us by God with a need which we can meet. Indeed, Christ himself meets us in that need (Matt. 25:40, 45).” (NIBC)

All the “negative” commandments (365 don’t) can be boiled down to this simple statement, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbors: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Greek word translated in the KJV as “ill” is generally translated as evil, wrong, bad, or harm. Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet, are all examples of things we must not do — lest we work ill or harm towards our neighbor. The 248 positive commands can be boiled down to one, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In other words, treat everyone in a way you would want to be treated. Don’t make excuses or look for loopholes in these verses. All of the laws of God boil down to two simple ones, “love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.”

The Love Problem

The love problem is simply this: if we don’t love, there’s a problem… a bad problem. Many problems that we have today are the direct result of non-love. Had love been being expressed, it would have never happened. Why? Because when everyone is treating one another the way they want to be treated, everything is good. However, when people treat others in ways they wouldn’t want to be treated problems inevitably result. This is why we have been commanded along these lines. the time would fail to cover this subject properly; but one thing is certain; all of our lives would be much different if everyone followed Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:8-10. 

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