Owe Nothing But Love
Pastor Steve Ellison
When the Holy Spirit finished the passage in which He told us how to measure our submission to God, He turned His attention to love. Romans 13:8-10 says, Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NASU, the caps indicate Old Testament quotations) This passage has been used as evidence that Christians should not borrow and go into debt. While avoiding debt is excellent counsel, that is not the point of this passage. However, not paying back a debt would constitute a violation of the principle of love. The point of this passage is to get us to realize that we might be able to pay back every other debt we owe (financial or otherwise) but we will never be able to pay back the debt of love that we owe.
Jesus said that the one who loves God with all his being and loves his neighbor as he loves himself has fulfilled the Law. With only a little contemplation, we quickly realize the simplicity and beauty and truth of Jesus’ claim. He is exactly right. If I love my God, I will not take His name in vain, have other gods before Him, etc. and etc. If I love my neighbor, I will not steal his goods, gossip about him, covet his wife, etc. and etc. All that is required of me is summed up in love. Or to put it another way, my love is measured by my actions toward God and toward every other person on the planet. If I love God, I will love my neighbor. If I truly love God and my neighbor, I cannot help but fulfill the rest of the duties.
It seems that Romans 13:8-10 is written to show me the goal that I am to aim for, but also to encourage me by letting me know that I will never fully reach that goal. Because I know that I ought to pay all my debts the phrase “owe nothing to anyone but love” tells me love is an impossible debt. It is not in me to pay it. I cannot pay because I do not have love in me naturally. Any love that comes forth from me originated in God and simply flowed through me. If I am not right with God, I will not, I cannot love my neighbor. Sure, I might do a good deed for my neighbor without loving God, but it will not be real love. It will have ulterior motives or some other attitude that disqualifies it from being real love. Something as subtle as making me feel better about myself, or making me appear better to others always creeps in. Because love is the fruit of the Spirit, I know that any love that I have came from the Holy Spirit.
God is the only source of love. I am simply a conduit of His love. I have a debt to love God and everyone other person. For every ounce of love that flows from me to God or another person, there is at least an ounce of love that flowed into me from God, thus I will never catch that debt up. I can never pay that debt in full, but I can try. .....firstname.lastname@example.org