It Is By Practicing The Law Of Love, That We Grow In Love

Here Paul is again counseling us as Christians to heed Christ’s call to us to do good to all. Our Christian faith is lifeless if it is insular, only for those “in the know.” Rather, Christ calls us to do good toward all. Even those who are sinners.

The advice here in chapter 6 is quite practical, but it is lifted up to the holy by the law of Christ, that is, the law of love. We are told in the very first verse, “Brothers, and sisters, if someone is caught in sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” We are all sinners, are we not? But those who have come to live their lives in the Spirit, through grace and hard work, have a duty to “restore” the sinner, to correct the sinner gently, out of love for him or her, so that the sinner can see the error of his or her ways and choose to return to the narrow path. Indeed, should we all be open to such correction. It is by practicing the law of love that we grow in love.

We are called in verse 2 to “bear each other’s burdens.” And we are told that in doing so we are “fulfill[ing] the law of Christ. The law of Christ is the law of love. It is only when we learn to love one another according to the law of Christ that we will be ready, willing, and able to bear one another’s burdens. This, of course, is not easy. And here is why; we are all too often driven by selfish concerns and desires, by the demands of our egos. Paul tells us to be aware of this when he writes: “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.” (verse 3) This is why Paul admonishes us to practice humble and prayerful self-examination writing, “Each one should test their own actions.” (verse 4)

“A man [or woman] reaps what he [or she] sows.” (verse 7) If we sow only to satisfy our own desires, we will never be satisfied. Indeed, we will find our way to ruin. If, on the other hand, out of a deepening sense of Christian love, we sow more and more good seed for others, “to please the Spirit, [then] from the Spirit [we] will reap eternal life.” (verse 8)

The world needs to see more Christians taking every opportunity to “do good to all people.” The place to practice that is within the home and within the community of believers. If we cannot do these things to those who are closest to us, we will not be able to do it for those who are not known to us. We will never be able to return good for evil, in other words, to love our enemies. When we have made love, and bearing one another’s burdens, a habit of our Christian lives together in our homes and in our churches, we will, through the grace of God, be able to bring that same love to all others more purposefully and more effectively in the name of Jesus.

Lord, help us to learn the value of bearing one another’s burdens so that we may more habitually fulfill your law of love in our own day and time. Inspire in us a growing capacity to do this things out of love, and without expectations of any kind. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.