What I’m Thinking: One Commandment

In the letter to Galatians, the Apostle Paul emphasized Christian freedom – but it’s freedom with a purpose and a direction.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fifth chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which begins with that amazing statement: “For freedom Christ has set you free. Do not return to a yoke of slavery.”

For Paul, however, freedom was not so much limited as purposeful. There was a reason – there is a reason – for people to have the freedom that is given to us in Christ. And the purpose is not self-indulgence, as Paul warned, but the purpose is love. To love one’s neighbor as oneself is to fulfill all of the commandments.

Now Paul was not original in saying so. Jesus, you might recall, said much the same thing. Both of them (Paul in particular here) were quoting Rabbi Hillel, who died about a dozen years after Jesus’ birth.

Hillel, I suspect, was not the first to say it either. My guess is that go back over the centuries and you’ll find many people realizing that that statement love your neighbor as yourself in Deuteronomy (actually Leviticus 19:18; oops) captures all the rest of the law.

So Paul warned against self-indulgence and being Paul, he couldn’t resist it: he had a long list of the things that qualified as self-indulgence. But he also had a list of the things that looked like love, that fulfilled love, that expressed love. Not love as a feeling, but love as an action, love as compassion embodied.

Just to name off a few of them for you: joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Paul said there’s no law against these: of course not, because they are literally the fulfillment of the commandments that God gave to Noah – gave to Moses – that God has given to people through the promptings of the Holy Spirit over the centuries and the millennia.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on June 20, 2022

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