“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves one another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 (NKJV)
Romans chapters 12-15 reveal the Apostle Paul’s practical exhortations to the church at Rome. While Paul was yet to have the opportunity to visit Rome he longed and desired in his heart to one day visit there. “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established.” Romans 1:11 (NKJV) These practical applications are characterized as such because they remind us that at some point and time we as believers must put into “practice” what we have been taught and what we have learned as a result of our relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. It is where the rubber meets the road; it is the litmus test of our faith and obedience to the cause of Christ. These exhortations will reveal if what we say with our mouth is really what we believe in our heart and most importantly that they have become a part of our walk, witness, and our ways.
The cumulative national debt of the United States of America currently stands at over 12 trillion dollars and counting. It is a debt that presents itself as somewhat inconceivable with regard to its repayment. However, it is a debt that consists of a plethora of expenditures that may actually yield very little benefit to anyone at all. Here in our devotional passage, Paul is not suggesting that we as believers should not go into debt, but it certainly forbids an attitude of being content with indebtedness, or thinking that indebtedness is a normal situation. “The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 (NKJV) On the other hand the suggestion is that if you have a preference, let it be in your desire to owe your fellow brother and sister love. It is the greatest debt that can be owed because by loving one another we actually fulfill the law. Jesus gives us the confirmation of such in Matthew 22 when He states that the greatest commandment is that we love the Lord our God, yet the second is just like the first. “And the second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:38-39 (NKJV)
When we really understand and commit ourselves to following the command to love one another, we would fulfill every social duty and would essentially observe those commandments that are most fundamental and important to all human relationships. As a result, the world would be a much better place in which to live. This cannot be accomplished unless we understand one of the powerful truths of the bible. “We love Him because He first loved us.” I John 4:19 (NKJV) When we accept this truth we can then love without hypocrisy, prejudice, and animosity. God loved us just the way He found us. He continues to love us just the way He finds us. Wretched, sinful, wicked, debased, corrupt, malcontent, conflicted, wounded, hateful, worthless, lustful, perverted, manipulative, warped, and the like; He loves us in spite of what He knows about us.
How can we not love one another? It is a debt that we owe and one we should pay but yet continue to owe. While other debts may be discharged, the debt of love always owes. Any payment made on this debt does not release us from continued indebtedness. Love’s debt is large. “But God demonstrates His love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV). With such an incomparable demonstration of God’s love for us on Calvary, we must continue to love one another. Not only is it the fulfillment of the law, but it is also tangible evidence of our love relationship with God. (See I John 4:20-21)