Originally posted September 11, 2018.
The Gospel, in and of itself, isn’t about our responsibility to love other people.
Does that statement shock you? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Traditionally, the Christian culture equates doing good to others and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves with genuine Christianity. And without argument, Jesus and His apostles taught that the command to love others is second only to the command to love God.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~~Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
But notice something critical about this passage, ladies. Jesus recited these two commandments of the Law, knowing full well that He was the only Human Being Who could keep either commandment perfectly. When have you ever loved the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind? When have you ever loved another person to the degree that you love yourself?
I never have.
Jesus stated the Law, but He always stated the Law to bring us to the realization that we can’t even keep two straightforward commandments. Although He most assuredly commands us to sacrificially love others, He also wants us to understand our inability to do so in our own strength. He wants us to recognize our need for a Savior.
The Law introduces the Gospel. The Good News is that Jesus took our sin on Himself, shedding His blood for the myriad of ways we fail to love Him and love others. The Gospel is that He took our sin and gave us His righteousness. Through His power, and only through His power, we can love Him and our neighbors.
The Gospel is about Christ, not about our works. Yes, He expects us to grow in obedience to Him, developing Christlike characters that reflect His wonderful love. In fact, our love for each other gives evidence that our salvation is genuine. But such love is a result of the Gospel. Not a component of the Gospel. Please don’t confuse the two.