“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.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” – Romans 13:8-10.
We have talked about debt this week. There is one debt we have yet to talk about: the debt of love to all people. In Matthew 22:36, a Pharisee asks Jesus, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus answers by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” Then in verse 39-40 Jesus adds, “A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
The Apostle Paul viewed himself as a debtor. The reason he incurred that debt is that he received God’s gracious love while he was yet a sinner: “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8).
Paying off debts is hard work. It requires discipline. You’d really enjoy that $4 latte at your favorite coffee shop, but you’re trying to get your credit card debt paid off, so you say no. You’d really like to get that latest computer gadget or smart phone, but you can’t afford it, so you wait. It’s not easy to get out of debt because it requires denying yourself in order to reach your goal.
It’s the same with the debt of love, except that you never will get it paid off. You’ll never get to the point where you can honestly say, “I love my wife as much as I should. I don’t need to work at it any longer.” The reason that it’s difficult to love others is that it always requires self-sacrifice or self-denial. It takes hard work. The Bible commands us to love others, which implies that we can do it even though it requires some thought and effort.
The debt of love involves not only our feelings, but also our actions, both positive and negative. Thus love involves concrete actions. It requires continual self-denial in order to meet the needs of others. It requires constant effort and thought. My prayer is that we will work to pay off our financial debts but also our debt to love others.
- Which people in your world are easiest to love, and why? Which people are toughest to love, and why?
- Think of one person in your “world” who is hurting right now. How can you show your love for this person in the coming week?