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In the Gates

The General Intent of God’s Law

The goal of God’s Law is to train us for love.


Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6.4

Our day has witnessed a diluting of the word, “love,” like no generation before us. It is not uncommon to express one’s enthusiasm for everything from one’s spouse and children to his church, favorite food, or the latest film or pop tune by using this word. “Love” has thus come to identify a generally favorable disposition toward a great many things. In the process, the real meaning of love, embodied by God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is lost to our sensibilities.

The goal of God’s Law is to train us for love, in the first instance, love for God. Jesus explained that all the Law and the Prophets – those Old Testament exponents and advocates of God’s Law – was fulfilled in the command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The general intent of God’s Law, therefore, is to define and enforce the terms of love.

“What the world needs now/is love, sweet love” sang the pop star Dionne Warwick in a previous generation. The Beatles chimed in their assent: “Al you need is love!” In every age the prophets and sirens of pop culture have insisted that love is the key to human happiness. “Why can’t we all just love one another?” has been the cri de cœure in every age. It remains so today.

This should give us hope that the Law of God, which is designed to teach and lead us into the ways of love, can once again provide a meaningful standard for human conduct. But we must begin where we can, among those who understand the Law’s intent and who will, by their own submission to the rule of God’s Law, be able to demonstrate its power for love, so perfectly embodied in Jesus Christ.

To submit to the rule of God’s Law is to submit to the counsels of love. How can we object to this?

The psalmist says that the righteous person meditates day and night in God’s Law (Ps. 1). Would like to get started in this discipline? Order a copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics and The Law of God. The first will explain the importance3 of God’s Law, and guide you in taking up the practice of daily reading and meditation. The second provides all the statutes, precepts, and rules of God’s Law organized under their proper number of the Ten Commandments.

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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