Have we loved enough?
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. – Romans 13:8
8 Owe nothing to anyone – except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.
9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These – and other such commandments – are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
What is persistent debt? In modern terms, this normally refers to credit card debt. It has also been extended to other forms of debt as well. Persistent debt occurs when a consumer pays more in interest, fees, and charges than they do to reduce their balance. Thus if they do not increase their payments, they will never pay off their debt. Persistent debt has become a regulatory issue for the government. Credit card issuers are required to identify credit card customers who carry persistent debt for over 18 months. The goal is to provide strategies to pay down the debt and eventually pay it off and be debt-free.
Children of the King are required to repay any debts incurred promptly fulfilling any agreements that have been made regarding them. Freedom from debt is a grand and honorable goal for all children of the King.
Due to our fallen DNA, we are naturally selfish and self-centered. We want to keep as much as we can for ourselves. We focus on working hard to protect and keep “what is mine.” The Lord Jesus Christ addresses this issue simply and directly.
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Paul elaborates and instructs us not to keep things for ourselves or worse, hoard. We are not to strive to maximize our treasures on earth.
However, this is not simply an accounting problem regarding money. Our obligations are not only financial. Rather, they encompass our priorities and the attitudes of our hearts.
We have a responsibility to be in a right relationship with others, particularly human authorities. For many children of the King, this is a major paradigm shift. It necessitates a major attitude adjustment from selfish possessiveness to unselfish giving.
Romans 13:7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
However, there is one kind of debt that can never be paid off: a love debt.
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other . . ..
The thought here can be translated, “Owe nothing to anyone; but you ought to love one another” (Moo), “Owe no one anything, except to love one another,” “Be in debt to no one,” or “Do not be under financial obligations to anyone” or “Do not be under obligation to anyone” (UBS).
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father has set no limit on the obligation demanded of the children of the King to love one another. Loving one another is not an unpaid debt. It’s a perpetual obligation (Cottrell).
Father thank You that what You are asking us to do in loving one another without regard to our loveliness, is nothing less than what You did for us when we deserved nothing at all.
Debts are not merely monetary. Each child of the King also has a sin debt that is been accrued through our thoughts, words, and actions. It is so great we could never pay it off. The Father knows this. He paid off our sin debt completely and redeemed us from the power of sin. Consequently, we are no longer in debt to the Father. However, a persistent debt remains on all our accounts. “The one debt that is always outstanding is the obligation to love” (MacDonald).
“We do have a debt that continues forever. It is our obligation to seek the welfare of our fellow human beings (Romans 8:4). The Mosaic Law required the same thing (Leviticus 19:18, cf. Matthew. 22:39)” (Constable).
“God is love, and the law reflects God’s character; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Obedience is never about slavishly following rules, but always about eagerly pleasing a loving God” (Stanley).
But something was missing in the Old Testament. There was no internal power to energize the person on the street to keep what the law demanded. That has been overcome in the New Testament. The indwelling Holy Spirit produces love for others within us. The Greek word translated as love is agape. Agape love is selfless love.
Agape is a “deep, unselfish, superhuman affection that one person has for another. This otherworldly love is not activated by any virtue in the person loved; rather, it is completely undeserved. It is unlike any other love in that it goes out not only to the lovable but to one’s enemies as well . . .. It is primarily a matter of the will rather than the emotions. The fact that we are commanded to love indicates that it is something we can choose to do” (Mac Donald).
This is clearly seen in the children of the King who lived in Colossae. Paul references the report provided by Epaphras regarding their godliness, determination, and love.
Colossians 1:8 He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.
Paul was pleased, very pleased, but he was not satisfied he wanted more. He was motivated to pray.
9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.
10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy . . ..
“‘Love one another’ is the basic principle of the Christian life. It is the ‘new commandment’ that Christ gave to us (John 13:34). When we practice love, there is no need for any other laws, because love covers it all! If we love others, we will not sin against them” (Wiersbe).
© Dr. H 2022