A Coin with Two Sides

They go together as one.

It is when full of charity that one is holy.
    He walks in charity.
Every evil fears him;
    every good loves him.
He has honour upon the earth;
    he has glory in heaven.
Love God:
    everyone will love you.
Fear God:
    everyone will fear you.

  - Colmán mac Beógnai, Aipgitir Chrábaid, Irish, 7th century[1]

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

  - 1 John 5.2, 3

Every believer recognizes that holiness and love are important aspects of the life of faith. These days we tend to hear more talk about love than about holiness. Love is what matters; holiness – not so much. It’s nice if you attain it, but, since God loves you just the way you are, holiness is nothing to get too worked up about. Better just to concentrate on loving.

But holiness and love are two sides of the same spiritual coin, as Colmán mac Beógnai explained in his instructional poem, “The Alphabet of Devotion.” You cannot be holy and not love; you cannot truly love without being holy. Holiness issues in love; love is the manifestation of holiness in relationships.

This is because love and holiness are both the fulfillment of the Law of God. The Law is holy, Paul tells us (Rom. 7.12); and, as John notes, obedience to the Law yields the fruit of love. Holiness and love flow from the fear of God and love for God. Only as we continue in holiness and love can we have any assurance that we actually know the Lord. We will be perfect in neither of these in this life; nevertheless, we may expect to grow in both holiness and love, and we should strive to improve in them daily.

So when are we holy? When we are loving God and our neighbors. How can we love God and our neighbors? By increasing in holiness through obedience to God’s Law. Why should we do this? Because fearing God and loving Him, we delight in His Law.

This seems so utterly clear from the Word of God, and yet it is still the case that many who profess to be Christians deny that the Law has anything to do with following Jesus Christ. But God has redeemed and is sanctifying us in order that He might show His grace – love – through us, and love is the fulfilling of the Law.

Jesus was holy and we are to be holy like Him. Jesus walked in the commandments of God, and so must we (1 Jn. 2.1-6).

The Spirit of God is holy, and He is at work within us to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ, the Holy One (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

Jesus is also loving, and the first fruit of the Spirit is love. He Who calls and makes us to be holy, makes us loving as well.

The righteous person – holy and loving – meditates on the Law, day and night, and hides it in his heart so that he will not sin against God (Ps. 1; Ps. 119.9-11).

Is daily meditation on the Law part of your regimen of spiritual disciplines? How do you hope to become holy and loving apart from meditation on the Law of God? Why not begin today to let the holy and righteous and good Law of God, which issues in love, feature more in your meditations on God’s Word?

The Law of God is the cornerstone of divine revelation. All the rest of the Bible takes its shape from the footprint God has set down in His Law. Read the Law and you’ll understand the rest of the Bible. As you read your Bible, it will help you to understand and obey the Law.

Keeping the Law won’t save you; God has done that by His grace through Jesus Christ alone. But continue daily in the Law, and all the Word of God, and you will grow in holiness and love.

For Reflection
1. What can you do to bring more meditation in God’s Law into your walk with Him?

2. How does keeping God’s Law help us grow in love for God and our neighbors?

Psalm 1.1-3 (St. Thomas: I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord)
How blessed are they that shun sin’s vain and wicked ways.
For them has Christ salvation won; He loves them all their days.

God’s Word is their delight; they prosper in its truth.
In it they dwell both day and night to flourish and bear fruit.

Firm planted on the banks of God’s great stream of grace,
they raise unending praise and thanks to His great glorious face.

I want to be holy, Lord, and I want to love like Jesus. Help me to make time for meditating in Your Law, so that I…

Meditate on God’s Law

Daily meditation on the Law of God contributes to growth in righteousness. In The Law of God, we have assembled all the civil laws of Israel under their appropriate heading of the Ten Commandments. Read and meditate on a page a day, and you will begin to discover how God’s Law can lead you to holiness, love, and a better overall understanding of Scripture. Order your copy from our online store by clicking here.

Thank You
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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Carey, pp. 233, 234.                                       

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore