Romans 13:8 (NIV)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Today, many of us will calculate the “debt” we owe to our government in the form of taxes; but our Verse of the Day speaks to the real debt that we owe … and that is to love one another! Paul said, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” Yes, to love and to forgive one another is a debt that can never be fully repaid … because the debt of love is what we owe our Savior, our Lord Jesus, for the debt (forgiveness) of our sin that He paid on through the cross. Because Jesus is resurrected and lives forevermore, our debt … our gratitude … our thanksgiving … our praise and worship is an eternal debt! And it clear His example of forgiving debt is to be extended to our relationships with one another. Consider how Jesus taught us to pray:
Matthew 6:9-14 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The debt of love is a continuing debt because our we are indebted to our Savior. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (Cf. John 13:34) And what shall we say about His love? It is an everlasting love … a covenant of love … a surpassing love that those who are in Christ will experience forever. As Paul concluded: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Cf. Romans 8:38-39) And just as the love of Christ is eternal, so is our forgiveness through Him.
As we celebrate His Resurrection, I pray we will keep the continuing debt of love foremost in our minds. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (Cf. John 14:15) “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” (Cf. 1 John 3:23) “And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (Cf. 1 John 4:21) “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome….” (Cf. 1 John 5:2-3)
Why is this important for us to grasp? Why is loving one another the ultimate command for us to fulfill? Paul put all of this in perspective for us when the full context of our verse is in view:
Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Citing Leviticus 19:18) Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law.”
Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV)
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Citing Leviticus 19:18) If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
When you and I love one another, we demonstrate to God that we love Him. Loving others fulfills the two greatest commandments … to love God and to love one another. (Cf. Matthew 22:36-40) The Apostle John was especially attuned to this truth when he penned: “We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (Cf. 1 John 4:19-21)
My friends, I pray the conviction and determination to love one another will continue to be the desires of our hearts. We have become new creations because of the sanctifying atonement Jesus wrought through His death on the cross! We have become sons and daughters of the Most-High God because of His resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of the throne of God! Indeed, we have become brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus … members of One Body. In unity with both the Father and Son, we are to love one another as we have been loved. (Cf. John 15:10) There is no ambiguity in the Scriptures regarding His command. There is no pre-condition to be met. It is not dependent upon one’s perceived merit. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Cf. Romans 3:23) “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Cf. Romans 5:8) “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (Cf. 1 John 4:11)
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. ~ Colossians 3:12-15