"Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law."
Have you ever wondered why we have laws? Sometimes we wonder why we even need laws, but every time I drive onto the freeway in the city, I remember why we need laws.
People like to push the boundaries, especially on the highway. If the speed limit is 55, we automatically want to go 60. If the speed limit is 70, we automatically want to go 75. It's in our nature to push the boundaries.
When we examine the laws of our nation, state and city, there are those obvious laws, like not murdering and not stealing. Then, there are all kinds of other laws, like not trespassing on others' property, and not defaming another's character. Come to think of it, these laws sound a lot like the laws in Deuteronomy, which we sometimes refer to as "The Big Ten" or The Ten Commandments. These laws are the foundational rules of a civilized society and are reflected in our own legal system. "The Big Ten" help us govern our inward and outward behavior. Jesus summed them up in two laws: Love God first, and then love others as God loves us. Sounds easy, doesn't it?
In the letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul wraps flesh around those simple words of Jesus and says, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor." John Wesley said it this way: "Do No Harm," the first of the General Rules for United Societies. When we make a decision to "Do No Harm," we begin to put others above ourselves. If I think of how my words will make others feel, for example, will I see that words can cut deeper than knives or swords? If I think of how my actions will make people spew words of hatred, will I see that my actions can be a catalyst for hate as well as for love?
What if, instead of pushing the boundaries on restrictive laws, we pushed the boundaries on how we love others? What if we let our love be boundless toward one another, and in doing so, we find that rules become second nature?
How can our behavior and words reflect God's boundless love to others today?
Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.