Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…
In other translations,”love” = mercy, kindness, grace.
“Faithfulness” = truth, or [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood].
The context of the passage is that this is God’s law. His real law, the substance of His law. Not what we call His law, the rigid and arbitrary p’s and q’s we had better mind, but the real meaning behind those commandments.
And it is a command. Note the “Let…never”. Other translations are: “Let not”…”Do not let.” Meaning don’t miss the boat; do not ever allow love, mercy, kindness, truth, faithfulness to leave without you. Keep them always with you. Keep them where you will see them. Be deliberate about it.
Why? Because by doing this, you will win favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and men. You will win favor and esteem…in the eyes of GOD and people.
In case you were thinking you would manipulate the approval of other people from whom you seek esteem some other way, such as worrying about how they think of you, playing a part or wearing a mask. In case you were operating under the illusion that you could ever make God approve of you by minding any set of p’s and q’s.
No, God approves when, out of trust in His say-so, out of humility before His wisdom, we live out our lives animated by love and faithfulness, mercy, kindness, grace and truth. Do this because He says so and trust Him for the results. Don’t protect yourself in human relationships; make yourself humble and vulnerable.
The New Testament echoes the same thought in Galatians 5.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Where do we acquire those good things like love and faithfulness? It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit; we get them from God. And there is no law against love, peace, faithfulness, self-control. We are completely free to go crazy with these qualities.
The converse point I take from this is: if you are allowing yourself to freely practice the opposites of these qualities, you must question whether you belong to Christ Jesus, or at least whether you have crucified your own sinful nature with its passions and desires. At the very least you should recognize that you are dismissing God’s clear urging to be motivated by His character; you are disobeying your Lord to whom you claim to belong.
You are being a hypocrite. You say and believe that you are walking in the power of God’s Spirit but you are actually being motivated by your own preferences and desires.
You are not keeping in step with the Spirit. Something else is driving your behavior, something other than God’s Spirit’s leading. Of course, you are not alone. This is a struggle we all live with. The point is to struggle, and not to let our ungodly desires have free reign.
…Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. We need constant reminders.
Love, faithfulness…grace, truth…kindness…