Read Romans 13:8-10
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 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.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
These are the laws we must follow but in previous verses, Paul tells us how important it is to keep track of our debt and always when we have the means to, pay who we owe. We must pay taxes to who it is owed and give payment to whom we owe payment to. But we don’t just have debt that involves money. We are currently in debt to a sinful world. This is the same sinful world that we must share the gospel with. This is because we are in debt to the holy spirit to live a holy life and continue to spread the gospel with this sinful world. From the time that we are born till the time that we die, we are in debt to someone.
However, the apostle Paul tells us that our debts can be paid off. The only debt that can’t is our debt to love. In these 3 verses, the word love is used 5 times. Love can mean different things to everyone so let’s look at the 3 different types and the ways we use them in our everyday life. First, there's,
Eros is an intimate love, one that you would typically share with your spouse due to the intimate nature of that relationship.
There is also phileo which stands for friendship love. This is a love that you would have for a long time friend. Someone that has been there for you through the ups and down. This love is for those that have gained your respect and trust enough that you have developed a very close friendship with.
And finally, the third love is Agape.
Now the word agape was created because writers of the New Testament wanted a word that would show the love that God has for us. So they created a new word. It was this love that Christ had for us, even after he was beaten, whipped, and then continued to be nailed to a cross. He did all of this to save everyone who accepts him in their heart. It Agape is a love that is unconditional.
Now to focus back on the debt of love we owe. My question today is how did we get into this debt? And how is love a debt? All of us in this room are in debt with the people sitting next to you and even your enemies. Typically, you get into debt because someone has given you something. When the bank gives you money to buy a home, you are in debt to the bank. If you borrow a book from your friend, you are bound to return that book to that person. So why are we indebted to people that have done nothing for us? For a better illustration, turn with me to
30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
What was the man's reasoning for helping the Jew? The Samaritans and the Jews were in constant conflict with one another. he had never met this man before so What compelled him to help this man? If we can figure this out, we can start to get a clearer picture of why we are to love without the intention to stop.
ROMANS 1:14-15 it says I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,[a] both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Paul is describing his love for the people around him by showing that he is telling all people the good news of Jesus Christ and about his saving grace. He tells us it is a gift that we can all give and receive. If we take a look at Romans 1:5, we can see exactly where our debt has come from. ROMANS 1:5 through whom ( Jesus Christ ) we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, our debt to love comes from Christ and from the debt that he paid for us on the cross. So why are we supposed to love those who do not deserve it? Because Christ died for people that did not deserve it, free of charge. We do it to show our faith and love to those who may not deserve it in our eyes, but it’s our jobs as Christians and followers of Jesus Christ.
I recently read a story about a holy man. This holy man was engaged in his morning prayer under a tree whose roots stretched out over the riverbank. During his prayer, he noticed that the river was rising, and a scorpion caught in the roots was about to drown. He crawled out onto the roots and reached down to free the scorpion. Yet, every time he reached out, the scorpion struck at him. An observer came along and said to the holy man, “Don't you know that's a scorpion, and its nature is to want to sting?” To which the holy man replied, “That may well be, but it is in my nature to save, and must I change my nature because the scorpion does not change its nature?”
Once we are saved we leave behind the hate that we feel for those who hate us. In GALATIANS 2:20 it says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” If we say that we have been saved, then we must show the love of Christ that lives in us.
So in other words, this debt that we must pay is not a normal debt. It’s a debt that was given to us, but we must pay it forward to others who don’t deserve it
So what are some ways that we can show our love to other people? Some might say money. Everyone needs money, right? you see someone on holding a sine you feel compelled to give him the 20 that's in your wallet that's a loving jester isn't it? Or how about food? Everyone’s got to eat. you go to a restaurant and offer to buy some stranger's food is that the way a Christian loves other people? what about clothes to wear? well these old beat up close don't fit so I'm just going to give them away Well here's the thing money can be made and spent, food can be grown or reproduced, clothes can be made and fixed if necessary. however, there is something that we can give to show our love that can mean more to people than anything, Time. Time is something that can not be taken back or regained. I can't tell you how many times I have heard someone say if only I was however many years younger. Now it is still good to give money, food, and clothing. But we us those times of giving to take the time to share the gospel with the people we are helping. time is very precious because we do not know how much of it that we have. It’s important to take the time we do have to share your wisdom with someone. Take the time to teach your children right from wrong. Take the time to comfort thoughts that need it. Time can be worth more than diamonds or gold.
Looking at Romans 13 again. At the end of verse 8 and the beginning of verse 9, Paul refers to the law. For the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Then in verse 9, he starts listing them off. How is the law fulfilled just by loving our neighbor? Because if you love your neighbor, you are loving the people around you. If you have a love for your spouse, you will not look lustfully at someone else causing you to commit adultery whether you realize it or not. What about murdering someone? Of course, a normal person wouldn't think of murdering someone. Well, let me reword that. I'm going to let Jesus say it for me. It says in Matthew 5:21 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[d] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[e] of fire. That kind of puts a new perspective on things doesn't it. Yet if we love those who do not love us, then we will not fall under this sin. Now let's look at stealing and coveting. If you show love to your neighbors and have joy for the things that you have, you won’t have a need to steal or covet.
Verse 10 finally brings everything together. It says. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Love is the foundation of the law. Love can be a very hard thing to give sometimes, especially tough love. There is a reason that Jesus said “for the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life” if you think following God was easy, then pick up a history book and look at what happened to Christians in AD 60s. Jesus loved us enough to be captured, beaten, flogged, and in the end, crucified. That is the meaning of agape, unconditional love. However, I believe that some people's hearts have become hardened to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We tend to forget how much love it took for him to suffer the horrible things that he did. He didn't deserve any of it but he suffered all of that for people who continue to sin and use his name in a derogatory way. We should be in a constant celebration that we have a sovereign God that loves us enough to send his son to die in our place. To pay the debt that we owed. I want everyone in this room to walk away today knowing that God loves each one of us with all his might. So the real question is, how much do you love him?