Reflections: Further Thoughts About Love and the Law

Did you ever take your loved one out for a special occasion, say an anniversary, and take them to a place you really liked only for them to not like it?

I want you to think about that for a moment, and then I want you to think about the two greatest commandments and what they mean.

 36Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

 38This is the first and great commandment.

 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40, King James Version)

Some of the recent comments made me realize that these two commandments are really more alike than I previously thought.

Consider, if you will, the “golden rule”.  The most popular version is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Jesus said it slightly different:

 12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12, King James Version)

Admittedly, the New Living Translation is a little clearer:

 12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

This is sometimes interpreted something like, "I know what I like done to me, so that is what I will do for others."  Yet, if you really think about it (or have tried it once or twice), it becomes apparent that isn’t going to work.

I like Italian.  In fact, I love Corso’s, which is waaay over in North Olmsted.  It’s not too pricey for real Italian, either, but even then I can’t afford it very often.  So, if I take my wife there to eat, I’m doing a good thing, right?

Well, only if she likes Italian.  Fortunately, Corso’s has a wide enough variety, but Italian is definitely not Toi’s favorite cuisine.  In fact, she detests Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill both.  If I picked either of those, it would be a guaranteed difficult conversation.

So, what went wrong?  I gave her what I would want.  I did unto her as I would like done unto me.

Hopefully, it is painfully obvious that the problem is I didn’t give her what she wanted.  Don’t I like it when people give me what I want?  If I really was trying to do unto her as I wanted others to do unto me, then I would give her what she wants because that really is what I want others to do to me.

This brings up the interesting idea of submission.  We probably could all recite the verse that says wives should submit to the husband by now.  However, what is most often overlooked is the verse that is applied to the entire congregation at Ephesians just before it.

 21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:21, King James Version)

If the entire congregation is supposed to submit to one another, then it makes sense that husbands should also occasionally submit to their wife’s wishes.  Why?  Because that shows sacrificial love.

 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25, King James Version)

It strikes me odd at times that in some families the children get their desires fulfilled easier than the couple fulfill each others’ desires.  A bit upside down, don’t you think?

When I am doing what you want rather than what I want, I am submitting to your desires.  I am fulfilling the doing unto others as I would like them to do unto me.

How do you do this?  How can you know?  Well, you could ask what they want.  Or, perhaps they will tell you what they want.  Maybe they will leave clues.  Maybe they will write you a letter.

I suppose that some people would read a loved one’s request to go out to eat at Corso’s, but instead they would be taken to McDonald’s.  Does this show respect for the other person?  Does this honor their wishes?  Does it strengthen the relationship to ignore the other person’s feelings in such a manner?

Do you know of anyone who has written you with what they want?  Could it be that there is someone with whom you have failed to properly show love in this regard?

God gave us His wishes, but there are those who would totally disregard them.  “I will please God my way,” is the standard reply.  But, does it?  “It still honors Him,” they reason.  But, does it?

Perhaps it is time to keep the first and greatest commandment the way it was intended.  Perhaps we should treat God as we would like Him to treat us.

It seems that people often want relationship without rules and without boundaries.  OK, then.  Treat your spouse that way and see where it gets you.  Or, dare I say, treat those under your care and authority that way and see what happens.


  1. This is a very thought provoking post. This can be applied to many areas of our lives. Thank you.