We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments; but is it worse to steal than to covet? Is it better to commit adultery than murder? Which is the least offensive sin, and which is the most offensive?
As human beings we like to simplify, codify, and try hard to obey. But God has a different way of looking at things: He looks at the heart. Greater than what we do—or keep from doing—is love. Our Lord spelled it out clearly for the Pharisees. Love God. Love others. “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40).
Love is the greatest command that we are to obey. It’s not an optional extra. Saint Paul teaches us that sin happens, but love enables us to bear all things, hope all things, and endure all things (1 Corinthians 13:7). Love joins all the other virtues together in perfect unity and goes far beyond (Colossians 3:13-14).
At the Last Supper, Our Lord told the disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This is not a statement meant to coerce us into obedience. It’s a promise. God’s love is strong enough to influence our thoughts and actions over and above our human passions and desires. Its effect on our lives is massive, so much so that sin diminishes and acts of service and compassion increase.
Allowing God’s love to fill and influence us is a pleasanter, easier way to obey than relying solely on human determination. God’s love overcomes all the manifestations of selfishness so that we can know his strength and his comfort.