Daily Reform, Day 117
Galatians 2:16 & Deuteronomy 6:4-9
From the Reformer
They also claim that we are able to love God by our own natural strength, to love God above all things, at least to the extent that we deserve grace. And, say the scholastics, because God is not satisfied with a literal performance of the Law, but expects us to fulfill the Law according to the mind of the Lawgiver, therefore we must obtain from above a quality above nature, a quality which they call “formal righteousness.”
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
When I fell in love with my wife, I did not as yet truly love her. You might say I was smitten. It was when she gave me her heart that I was enabled to really love. Her love for me drew out love from me that was not yet present. I was not yet able all those years ago to fully love her because I was loving her with my own power, a power based largely on feelings that I thought were love. But now my love is based upon faith. I do not love from my own power but from a sort of supplied strength, having learned that she continues to love me in spite of me. I have faith in her love. And that faith in her love for me lends potency to my own meager love for her.
I know now that my love for my wife had so little to do with my feelings for her. It was when I knew (or had faith in) the fuller extent of her love for me that I was empowered to love more truly.
We are to love God in a similar manner, not in our own power but with a strength that he supplies through faith in him. We are to love him with all our heart and soul and strength — an impossible thing, of course. So we must have faith that he still loves us, despite our failings at loving him as commanded. It is this faithful, coming-back love that God desires from us. This love that is compelled by a greater love may be what God considers loving him with our whole heart. The one who senses he has failed at loving but tries to love again because he knows he is still loved, might be said to finally love with all of his broken heart and skimpy soul and meager strength. He has learned to love more fully because he knows that he is completely loved. He is loved by a true love — by Love himself.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers