Law vs Love (John 1:17)


For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

Read: Genesis 32:1-35:27

Relate: I tend to have this irresistible urge to make a lot of laws for myself. I’ll read about praying Hyde and decide I need to get back to praying for three hours a day, every day. Way back when I was actually doing this for close to a year. I was miserable. I also made a commitment around the same time to read through the Bible three times a year. I’ll find myself falling behind and then I just end up giving up for a while. So eventually I’ll end up taking a weekend to try and push my way through all of Leviticus and Numbers. I am miserable. (By the way, I’m only 12 days in and I’m already 4 days behind).

When I catch up, I feel good for a while… until I start to mess up again. Then I go around beating myself up inside. I only prayed forty minutes today. I’ll have to add the difference to how much I pray tomorrow. And then I only pray 20 minutes tomorrow. Before I know it I need to spend an entire day in prayer to get back on track. Not happening. I give up. I’ve got to read 62 chapters tomorrow to get to where I should be. Not happening. I give up. I did real good with scheduling my entire day on that new planner I got for New Years. For a week. The past five days, well… I give up. I know I said I will go running two miles a day. That means I should have run 24 miles at this point. I’ve done seven. That means tomorrow I have to run 17 miles. Oh yah, plus the two for the thirteenth. Not happening. I give up.

React: The law came through Moses. The purpose of the law is to do two things. 1) Reveal the standard God has. 2) Demonstrate how utterly impossible it is to keep it. Seriously. Have you read Leviticus? Did you know it is a commandment to stand in the presence of an elder. I’m here at a Starbucks. Since I started typing this, I’ve become a lawbreaker three times. Four. And now I’m a willful lawbreaker because I knew I should stand when that door opened but I willfully chose not to. So that’s an entire new type of sacrifice I need to make. I am guilty. The law reveals that.

Love and faithfulness comes through Jesus Christ. Because I love Jesus, I get to spend time in fellowship with Him through prayer. It is no longer a law. It is a demonstration of my love for Him. And because I know He loves me, I don’t need to feel guilty if today isn’t as long as yesterday. I don’t have a box to check off. I have a romance to pursue. Because I love God, I have the privilege and honor of digging into His Word. I want to know Him. If today it is only a few verses, that’s OK. It is an act of love. And because it is not a requirement fed by Law leading to guilt, it is so much easier to stay faithful. The religion vs relationship has become so overused it has become cliche`. But at its heart there is truth. In reality, religion is helping the needy and living holy. I love both of those things. So why not set it up as Law vs Love instead. I don’t have to pursue God. I have the glorious, wonderful honor of pursuing Him. And because of love, in a way, I actually do have to pursue God. What about you?


God, I love You. More than words can ever say, I love You. More than anything else, I love You. Sometimes there rises up in me a desire to “prove” my love for You in the things that I do. Sometimes I begin to put myself under a law, a legalism, that You have already set me free from. Help me to do those things that demonstrate my love for You. Help me to live in faithfulness. But help me to do it out of love, not because of law. Let me live holy because You are holy and I want to be like You, not because there are a bunch of rules that I must follow. Let me swim in the ocean of Your grace. Because, God, I love You.

9 thoughts on “Law vs Love (John 1:17)

  1. Pingback: New post Law vs Love (John 1:17) | Jesus' Compassion 4 America! (& the world!)

  2. I think you are unneccessarily getting down on yourself. Besides, what normal person voluntarily takes on Leviticus? I know the answer to this…ha ha. You are a holy person. Still. That’s like me spending my sick week at home digesting the Common Core while fevering and throwing up. I am a teacher. Allow me to play Physician. Cut yourself a lot more slack. I would stand by you at Starbucks any day. ha ha…. but I am not a coffee drinker. So next best thing is this. I’ll stand by you in love by reading your blog. 🙂 Be happy because you inspire people.

  3. Good insight. A few observations. The translation of John 1:17 is unfortunate as it appears to follow the KJV precedent. KJV italicizes the word ‘but’ which indicates the exact word, usually δε or αλλα, is absent. Nearly all other translations render the text correctly excluding the word ‘but.’ Also the connotation of the word ‘law,’ for non-Jewish people, is markedly different from the Jewish understanding of Torah. The Gr. term νομος (law), used in the LXX to translate תורה (Torah), appears in John 1:17. However the the concept of the term Torah is held in high esteem by devout worshipers. Interestingly we may note that Proverbs 3:1-4 would reflect the full understanding of the verse here. My son, do not forget my teaching (MyTorah, תורתי), but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love (Grace חסד) and faithfulness (Truth אמת) forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. (Pro 3:1-4 ESV) So here in this short passage, divine instruction is attached to grace and truth as the translation you have above puts well, ” unfailing love and faithfulness”. So I would encourage us to think of the divine instruction as more of a guide of life which Jesus rightly interpreted. That if we follow Jesus and keep his commandments, as he encourages us to do, we are observing the correct interpretation of divine instruction walking in grace and truth.

  4. Well said BJ … despite what Scripture tells us, we so often choose the path of the law for righteousness vs. the path of love. Thank God for His mercy, grace, love and the hope an a future He makes available to all of us through the risen Christ Jesus!

  5. Having perfectionist tendencies, I relate to this so much. With God there is love, grace and mercy. My own wilfulness and pride push me to attempt legalism that actually pushes me away from God and gets my attention off him and on to me. Not how he planned it. So I choose love, definitely love over law. Law is death, love is eternal. Great post. Thank you

  6. This is such an onion of a topic! Layer upon layer gets peeled back as we walk with Christ and allow Him in shape our hearts. Thanks for posting!

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