February 15 - Romans 13:8-14

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Romans 13:8-14 – Love Your Neighbor

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.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 

To begin with, Paul is not saying that borrowing money is disallowed. Even Jesus says in Matthew 5:42, "Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." What Paul is trying to make clear is that debt should not be left unpaid. If you borrow, repay promptly.

This is a duty for Christians and he follows it with a short list of the commandments, but then summarizes it just as Jesus did by quoting Leviticus 19:18 "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love never harms another person and love fulfills all of the basic tenets that are the Law.

We should live in love with others with a sense of urgency. While Paul's readers probably knew someone through several degrees of separation, who had known personally of Jesus' ministry, his death and resurrection, they looked forward to the time when Jesus would return and make all things new.

But for any person who has said yes to salvation through Jesus Christ, the hour has come to wake from slumber … full salvation is nearer now than the day we first believed. While we can see this simply as aging toward death, we don't know when Christ will return. Paul commands Christians to live wholeheartedly for God. Every moment of the day is to be lived in preparation for his return. He lists several things that Christians continue to deal with and often demand to be made acceptable … but Paul calls them deeds of darkness: carousing and drunkenness, sexual immorality and debauchery, dissension and jealousy. It is interesting that though some of us want to point the finger at others for their sins, Paul manages to incorporate poor behavior that each person faces. None is greater or lesser than the other.

Clothe yourself with Christ Jesus, set the desire to gratify the flesh aside.