Q: What Is the Law of Christ?

In the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, a scribe (lawyer) asked Him a question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mt. 22:36).

Jesus replied, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (vv. 37–40).

He also told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn. 13:34). This commandment was new because Jesus would emphasize love on a much higher level throughout His ministry; and He would require His followers to do likewise (15:12–13, 17; 1 Jn. 2:7–8; 3:11; 2 Jn. 5).

Therefore, the “law of Christ” involves loving God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind and loving a neighbor as one’s self, the way Jesus loved God and ministered to people.

The commandment “Love one another” (Jn. 15:12; 1 Jn. 3:23; cf. Gal. 5:13–14) fulfills all other laws because it works no ill toward anyone (Rom. 13:8, 10). Christians who pursue this commitment will satisfy the requirements of the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

Paul illustrated the love of Christ using a hypothetical example: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (vv. 1–2).

The word overtaken implies the believer’s sin has become habitual, consuming the individual in a way that burdens him heavily. The word burden refers to any weight or load too heavy to bear. Here it is used figuratively to mean any temptation, sin, or moral weakness too difficult for a brother or sister in Christ to overcome alone.

Paul said we are to help carry one another’s loads as if they were our own. We are to provide sympathy, comfort, counsel, and a helping hand when necessary.

To manifest the love Jesus showed is possible only if we are yielded to the Holy Spirit. He gives us the wisdom and power to minister effectively to our afflicted brethren. Christlike love, which is selfless and sacrificial, is the greatest form of love.

All Christians should imitate Christ’s love; and in so doing, we will obey the “law of Christ.”

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