Faithlife Sermons

Our Debt of Love

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:04:10
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If we divided up Romans
1-11 is what God has done for us (through Jesus)
12-16 is what God is doing in us (by the Spirit)
Paul is describing actions/attitudes that distinguish/mark the lives of believers....(tracks/bread crumbs).
We are genuine (we are not pious, elite)
We are generous (we serve w/ gifts, time, money)
We are hospitable (stranger —> friend)
We are peaceful (not seeking revenge, not stirring up a fight)
LAST TIME We are respectful (submissive to those God has placed over us in authority)
We pay taxes to who taxes are owed
We pay revenue to who revenue is owed
We give respect/honor to who it is owed
Paul is going to reiterate, that all of the actions and attitudes that mark the lives of believers are motivated by love.
In other words, let’s not make love a category alongside of being genuine, generous, hospitable, peaceful and respectful…but let everything we do; let all of our behavior be marked and seasoned by love.
This morning, I just want to look at a few things Paul says here about how our lives should be lives of love.
Romans 13:8–14 ESV
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Love is something that cannot be paid in full.

Somethings can be paid in full, we owe nothing...
Taxes/Revenue - every year we take time(lots of time, paperwork, head scratching, fine print) to figure up what we owe based on formulas and forms and deductions, and we pay that to the state and federal government or we get fined or go to prison...
Respect/Honor - We acknowledge someone’s position and their authority/rule/laws based on that position…Teachers, Bosses, Police Officers, Judges, the President.
In School if you respect your teachers authority, then you are you behave a certain way in the halls…quiet, don’t run, single file..
Love is one thing we can never pay in full.
I can owe taxes in March, get them filed in April and now I don’t owe taxes again until next year…they are paid in full for the year.
I can borrow money from a bank to buy a house/car…I make payments 5-6 years for a car 15-30 years for a house, they are paid in full.
But Paul doesn’t say something similar about love, he implies that love is something that we will always owe, every day we wake up in this debt of love.
Paul is saying that no matter how many payments of love we make, that love is something we can’t check off as done/finished in the same way we could if we owed someone money.
We will never reach the place in our lives where we can confidently say, “I love everyone as much as I ought”
We will never reach that place in our lives where we wake up and say, “ Today, I don’t need to do anything for anyone to show them I love them”

Why do we have this ongoing debt of love?

Typical Debt - Usually when we are in debt, some one has done something for us, and we need to pay them back.
Banks - taking out a loan for a car, house, college tuition
Co-worker - maybe buying lunch b/c we forgot our wallet…so they pay today, we pick up the tab next time.
This isn’t what Paul is talking about...
He is not saying just love those who love you
He is not saying love those who do things for you
Jesus would say this in Matthew 5:46
Matthew 5:46 ESV
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
It’s easy to love those who give us something, who benefit us,
but this is loving those who have done nothing to deserve our love…
Even includes loving those who have been deemed “unlovable”
Why do we have this kind of love debt?
Paul opened up his letter with the “why” Romans 1:14
Romans 1:14 ESV
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
Under obligation - I am indebted, I have a debt to the Greeks and Barbarians to preach the gospel
In Corinthians 9 He explains he became a servant to all, he associated and developed bonds with all..those under the law (Jews) and those outside of the law (Gentiles) he became all things to all people
Paul says I dove in, I got my hands dirty..this isn’t just talk, this isn’t loving from a distance…I served in love.
Why does Paul have this debt…had they done anything for him?
Why is he indebted to those who would reject him, who would harm him, who would place him in jail and beat him?
Because of Jesus Romans 1:5
Romans 1:5 ESV
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
Paul is not in debt because these people gave him anything; He is in debt to these people because Jesus has given him everything…freely!
Paul is saying I have recieved a love that I did not deserve, and so from this; there is a fountain of love within me for others who haven’t deserved love either.
The apostle John would say it this way… 1 John 4:11
1 John 4:11 ESV
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Our love for others, is a fulfilling of the law

Paul is not saying that acts of love will get us into Heaven.
Remember, he has already spent 11 chapters on our need of a Savior, and how God sacrificed His own son so that we could be forgiven of our sin debt before God and be declared right (righteous)
Paul precedes all of this talk about love by saying in light of what Jesus has done on the cross, present your bodies a living sacrifice.
Paul is talking about our moral responsibilities before God.
Think back to the 10 commandments...
4 about our vertical / 6 about our horizontal
Jesus sums it up in these two parts Matthew 22:36-40
Matthew 22:36–40 ESV
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Paul is not doing away with the importance of the first, because this second part of his letter is speaking directly to believers…those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Paul is saying that our moral obligations are all fulfilled by simply living a life of love...
If our lives are motivated by; and lived in love, the commandments will not be broken....they are taken care of by this one thing…love
This list of do nots becomes a simplified list of do…do one thing, love others.
So many times we focus and emphasize the don’ts , as we judge and criticize and condemn…seeking to build our selves up at the expense of others…and we over look love.
This is why my prayer is that at First Light we become a people who are not caught up in talking about our church, what kind of service, music or clothes we have…but that we get caught up in talking about our God and how He is changing lives through His love and teaching us to love others…because the honest truth is we are all unlovable.
This is why Grace is so good. This is why grace is so amazing.

Now is the time to walk in love

Paul moves on to say that there is an urgency for us to live with this kind of intentional love for others.
The hour has come for us to wake from sleep.
Paul is reminding them, and us that we live in the “already/not yet”
There is an urgency to wake up…to live life making payments of love!
We have salvation through Jesus, and one day He is coming to restore and right all things…but not yet.
There are those around us that are still sleeping
Those that are still imprisoned by sin, guilt, shame
Those who are battling addictions, slaves to sin w/o hope
So the time for action is now…we do not know when Christ will return
There is a story that says,
A Roman nobleman died, leaving enormous debts that he had successfully concealed during his lifetime. When the estate was put up for auction, Caesar Augustus instructed his agent to buy the man’s pillow. When some expressed surprise at the order, he explained, “That pillow must be particularly conducive to sleep, if its late owner, in spite of all his debts, could sleep on it.”
iv. Paul is saying…wake up! This debt of love should stir us to action. Each day we have opportunities to serve/love those around us.
This reminder of urgency is also a reminder of the transformed and renewed mind that God is working within us to do the will of God…what is good and acceptable and perfect.
This kind of love is only possible by the transforming power of Gof
Paul likes to give this illustration, off with the old clothes, and on with the new…like changing pants.
Put on Jesus, we are clothed in His righteousness and now put on his mindset.
Philippians 2:5-11
Philippians 2:5–11 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
d. Getting out of debt can be hard.
i.You have heard stories of people that have built up so much debt…they charged so much to credit cards and finally they decide…it’s time to change. It is time to get out of dept.
So they make changes…they pass on the $4 latte, they stop eating out so much, they pass up on going to the movies even though they really wanted to go and slowly they make progress. Slowly they chip away and pay on their debt.
ii. Sometimes getting out of debt means we have to deny ourselves what we would want.
iii. At Home...
It would be easier to just watch tv or read the paper and not help my wife with dinner, clothes, the kid’s homework…but I have a debt of love
iv. At Church...
It would be easier just to come hear the sermons and leave…never interacting, never participating, never serving, working those late events…but I have a debt of love
v. At Work...
It would be easier to not engage in conversations that might make people uncomfortable, it might be easier just to divide my secular life from the sacred…but I have a debt of love
vi. I am not saying that I do all things things, that I have all of this down and here are the steps that you can take to be like me....I don’t love like I should, the easiest person for me to love is myself…I’m selfish and I want my time, money,’s hard to deny myself, its hard to die..
e. But in the Bible, we are constantly reminded that we are free to love because we have been freely loved by Jesus....and it is through his renewal of our minds and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we can continue the pursuit of loving others around us.
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