Let’s Talk Love: The Indispensable Virtue

Introduction

Over the next month or so, we will be looking at the most important virtue to which a human being must understand and commit if he or she is going to know and understand the character and will of God. It is foundational to the Christian life–it‘s very identity and destiny, and to the degree that it is present and active, it determines the welfare of each person’s conscience. We will start with discussing love as it is expressed in the Ten Commandments and end a few weeks hence with the commandment to love one’s neighbor as you love yourself.

If the conscience is the guardian of the soul, of our very lives and existence, love is the fuel that feeds and keeps the conscience strong and healthy. Love is also the foremost of all virtues; without love, every other virtue is rendered ineffectual or meaningless. Patience does not know what to endure, kindness cannot devote itself to any particular service, goodness can’t praise anything, and faithfulness has nothing to praise. Without love, no one can experience joy and peace or have the will and strength to persevere; there would be no reason to persevere; there would be a reason to forgive or to trust. Without love, life itself comes under assault, liberty and freedom are denied and happiness is replaced with all manner of greed and lust. Without love, there is no God for He alone is love and its source from which human beings partake and live (1 John 4:7-21). Without love, selflessness is replaced by selfishness and a Pandora’s box of evil is unleashed from the defiled conscience that guides the entire human race. Life itself has no meaning or value. When love is misunderstood, ignored or denied, the Lord’s influence or impact is diminished, vice (such as tolerance of wrong-doing and immoral behavior) creeps in and harmful and destructive behavior increases.

Love’s “cousin” is the word loving-kindness (the Hebrew word is hesed), which is translated kindness, mercy, steadfast love, loyalty, or unfailing love. The covenants or promises that God makes to Israel and to believers are based on unfailing love and a pledge of loyalty. God’s love is the bond between Himself and those who put their trust in Him; this love keeps its commitments and assures forgiveness and restoration, which is why salvation by grace through faith alone is secure and permanent; human shortcomings do not make void God’s word, which includes His promises.

The love that comes from the heart and mind of God is the universal standard. Simply stated, there is no love without the presence of God or in His involvement in human affairs. Once humankind injects its opinion into the love potion, love is diminished until it is lost. Therefore, it is proper and necessary to think of love as always divine. Created beings owe all that is good in them and in the world to their Creator, hence the reason liberal progressives and secularists do all they can to discredit and discard the existence of a Creator; nonetheless, their ability to love to any degree is dependent on the one true God, Jehovah, Whom they despise.

Scripture’s First Love Chapter (Exodus 20:3-17)

The Ten Commandments (Decalogue) are the foundation of all 613 commandments in the Bible. Each commandment reflects the character of God and His will for the nation of Israel and the Church of Jesus Christ.

The purpose of these commandments is first and foremost to teach God’s children about love for God, which is why the first command is 1) “You shall have no other gods before me.” God is getting to the most essential point—no other god is God and, therefore, there is nothing that can be learned from these gods (manmade) that will save and protect the quality of human life. God is the One and only One! 2) “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness” from creation, nor worship them. The creation cannot reflect the glory of God in any way. Worshipping these idols or serving them is forbidden. Do not give value to something that has no divine or saving value. Idols constructed from the creation have no worth apart from God’s purposes. Don’t reduce the Creator to anything less than He is. The consequence of such sinful, wrong-headed behavior will turn your children and your children’s children away from God for generations. God is above creation! 3) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Never say anything that does not reflect the true nature and purpose of Jehovah. His greatness must not be diminished in any fashion. God is truth! 4) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Pause each and every week to reflect upon the Person and greatness of God, lest your sinful or selfish minds forget Who created, saves, and sustains you. You, Israel (and the Church to come), are to be the true representation of Jehovah to the world. God is worthy of praise! The first four commandments of the Decalogue are a constant reminder to the nation of Israel: love God for your own wellbeing. To forget or to depart from the Lord is unnatural and will result in the demise of Israel and the surrounding nations (this is true of the Church as well). Commandments 1-4 demand that the people focus on loving God as their first priority.

The remaining commandments inform the people of the importance of loving one’s neighbors, which is anyone who comes across your path. 5) Honor your father and your mother that your days may be prolonged in the land. What does loving one’s parent have to do with remaining in the land of Israel? The reason is not simply that they are your ticket to life; it is because your parents are responsible to train you in the ways of the Lord so that loving-kindness, justice and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:23-24) remain in the land for generation after generation. The parents are the first line of defense for the education and protection of the conscience of the nation. God protects future generations! 6) “You shall not murder.” You did not bring life into the world, God did; therefore, you have no divine right to unjustly remove a life from the world. Each person you meet is a traveler. Treat each person in the same way that you want to be treated. God protects life! 7) “You shall not commit adultery.” This command is given to protect the sanctity of marriage and the role of the family in Israel and, by extension, the Church of Jesus Christ. God protects family! 8) “You shall not steal.” Property does not come easy to most people and is depended upon for work and survival; it is to be respected by others. God protects personal property! 9) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Truth is essential to civil society; without it, great harm falls upon the innocent (keep this in mind every day as progressivism continues to tighten its noose on Western culture). Also, truth reflects the character of God and must be reflected in His children. Where truth is lost, all manner of mischief ensues. God protects the truth! 10) You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor.” If a nation sincerely depends on God, He will provide for the people. The possessions that God has given to another must not be objects of lust by others. God protects against selfishness! Commandments 6-10 make the people’s secondary focus on one’s neighbors, i.e., loving others.

Remember the words of the Lord: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31). The first is the greatest because everything needed for life, faith and practice is in the Person of God: Father, Son and Spirit. Without God, there is no love and respect for one’s neighbor (fellow human beings). Loving God makes it possible for human beings to love their neighbors. Knowing and serving God is having the aptitude to love at all. God first loves us with His protective guidance; only then are we able to truly love and protect others.

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I am a published author, co-author and editor of 13 books, written numerous articles, taught online at Liberty University and Grace College (Indiana), and appeared on numerous radio and TV programs. I am a theologian, bioethicist and retired veteran.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Love: The Indispensable Virtue

  1. I’ve always thought of the Scriptures as being the guardian and standard of our conscience. A conscience and be confused and the heart can be deceived. I think I understand what you mean though. There is the assumption that the heart and conscience will be sensitive to the Scriptures. Am I understanding this correctly?

    1. The heart and the conscience are protected by truth and character that is based on truth. When truth is devalued or lost, the conscience will become corrupted and the heart destroyed, Basically, a good conscience has character and is useful and helpful; a bad conscience ultimately is dangerous and will become more and more violent.

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