Our Code Is a Character

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.—John 13:34

What other teacher has taken the Ten Commandments and had the right to add another commandment to them? But this is precisely what Jesus did, as we see from our text today. “I give you a new commandment,” He says. “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”

The Old Testament and other religious writings enjoined loving one another. What was new was this: “As I have loved you.” Our Lord’s conduct—”as I have loved you”—produced a new code for the human race. Paul, writing to the Philippians, catches the spirit of it when he says: “Treat one another with the same spirit as you experience in Christ Jesus” (Php 2:5, Moffatt). Here morality reaches its high-water mark. From the moment Jesus uttered the words that are occupying our attention, there came into human life something more than a code—there came a Character. Now, therefore, our code is a Character—the Character of Jesus.

When someone asks me if I believe in the Ten Commandments, I say: “Yes, and very much more besides. I believe in Jesus.” The Ten Commandments are an injunction—and a God-given one. But Jesus is an injunction plus an inspiration. To follow an injunction is to obey imposed morality, but to follow a Person and do the things He does is an inspired morality. One is legalism, the other love. One binds you, the other frees you. One makes you feel trammeled, the other relaxed and spontaneous. Our code is not a commandment but a Character. One greater than the commandments is here.

Prayer

O Christ, Your law lays upon me an injunction, but Your life entering into my life inspires me to live up to that injunction. It is this that makes Your yoke so easy. I am deeply, deeply grateful. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 15:1-17; Jms 2:8; Mt 7:12

What was the basis of Christ’s love?

What is the basis of our being able to fulfill the Royal Law?

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