Why, then why,
O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love You well?
Not for the hope of winning heaven,
or of escaping hell;
Not with the hope of something gained,
Not seeking a reward;
But as You have loved me,
O ever loving Lord!
An individual ought to love God for His grace and salvific mercy. It is through God’s mercy that an individual can know and love God more completely. This love then translates into a love of neighbor. John would write in the third chapter of his first epistle,
18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,and Godin him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
It is out of this love that we are able to love others. A Christian, who is in Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, ought to act differently towards their neighbor. A Christian, out of their inward change, is prompted to love God and their neighbor completely, even an enemy. “A Christian man,” Martin Luther writes, “is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.” While there is freedom in Christ there is also a sense of responsibility towards loving one’s neighbor. This is not done through a rigid command but through the indwelling of the Spirit and a change in the believer. By the Spirit’s empowerment, the Law lives inside of man’s heart and he learns to delight in it.
Might we learn to love in both deed and truth.