Psalm 87-88 Romans 13
“Do not owe people anything, except always owe love to each other, because the person who loves others has obeyed all the law.” (Romans 13:8 NCV)
Romans 13 begins with a discussion of government. Given the problems and persecution that Paul dealt with from the Romans, it would be easy to imagine Paul saying something like “Not my emperor.” Instead, he counseled believers to obey the government because they were put in place by God. Their job was to keep order, and part of that included punishing evil-doers who didn’t obey the law. Then, Paul made a big shift. As a Christian, there’s an easy way to obey the secular and the religious law: love other people. Paul’s point was simple: everything that the law of God tells us to do could be observed by loving our neighbor.
When you look at most of the crimes committed in this world, many of them would never happen if we all showed God’s love to our neighbors. Theft, violence, murder all are completely contrary to the idea of loving our neighbors. Injustice doesn’t exist if we love our neighbors. You cannot oppress the person you love – if your love is based on God’s love. Paul’s advice was to avoid situations where we would owe people favors, money, or anything that might put us under obligations that would make it difficult to stay in fellowship with God. If we owe other people anything: money, favors, or work, we spend much of our effort to take care of that debt that we don’t take the time to show love – especially to the person that we owe, whatever we might owe. If I owe another person something, we no longer have a relationship built on mutual respect and the love of God; we’re in a relationship where it’s easy to end up resenting the other person because of their claims on our life. We must avoid those situations as much as possible and recognize that our one obligation is to love others with the love of God.
Oh Lord, so many people recognize the need for love in our world, but they don’t even know about Your love. Help me to share Your love and grace with them as I follow Your call to love other people.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved