Romans 13:8-10. 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.
Have you ever been in debt? Yep, me too. Have you ever tried hard to get out of that debt? To pay it all off? To be out from under that burden? Of course when it comes to owing money its a good thing to be free from debt. As Paul says here in Romans 13 – Owe no one anything.
But there is one debt we will never pay off, and that’s a good thing. The debt of love. Owe no one anything, except to love each other.
Love is our eternal, never ending, obligation to one another. We will never be paid up on love. We will never have “loved enough” or “too much.” We can never stop loving. We can never over love. You can pay all your taxes and pay off all your debts, but you will still owe the debt of love. It never gets less. It never gets paid off. It never goes away. And you can’t declare bankruptcy.
Why? Why the need for perpetual love?
Because God is love.
Because love is how we “overcome evil with good.”
Because we will always need love. We need to see, feel, and hear “I love you” every day forever. Yesterday’s love runs out quick. We need a love that is new every morning.
And finally, this debt of love never ends because we never actually love each other perfectly. Paul says love fulfills the law. But none of us is fulfilling this law. Not today, not yesterday, not tomorrow. Have you given up on loving someone? Have you thought “Well I’ve loved them enough, I can be done loving them now?” Do you think you can stop loving them until they love you back? Do you take time off from loving for some “me time?” Do you walk past people that aren’t worthy of your love? Do you love only when it’s convenient, or when it works in your favor?
So…the love debt continues. We haven’t fulfilled the law of love.
But there’s hope. How? Because LOVE fulfills the law.
On the cross, God’s love fulfilled his own law through Christ. And now, in Christ, the righteous requirement of God’s law of love is fulfilled inside each and every child of God.
Romans 8:3-4. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.
So you see, Paul isn’t putting us back under law as something that we have to fulfill by our love. He’s putting us under the law of Christ, which Christ himself is fulfilling in us as he loves through us. Oh what grace! In the flesh he loved perfectly. In the Spirit he loves perfectly through us. In the flesh he loved God perfectly. In the Spirit he loves God perfectly through us. In the flesh he loved his neighbor perfectly. In the Spirit he loves his neighbor perfectly through us. In the flesh he loved his enemies perfectly. In the Spirit he loves his enemies perfectly through us.
If we are in Christ, then the law of Christ’s love is already fulfilled in us – in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. When we love, we are not trying to live up to the law in an attempt to gain righteousness. Rather, we are allowing the Law of Christ’s life to be fulfilled in us each time we love.
Each time we, by the Spirit’s grace, manage to love freely and unconditionally (yes it does happen sometimes), we are fulfilling what the law demanded, but could never produce. Only Christ in us could produce it. And only by freeing us from the law. Only those not under law can love as the law demands. Only in Christ can the law be fulfilled when we love our neighbor as ourselves.
“To live is Christ” is to live under the never ending debt of love. The only debt in the world that won’t crush us. The one debt, that when we pay it forward will conform us to Christ.
Have you given up on loving someone?
You in Christ
Why must we believe that the law has already been fulfilled in us by Christ before the “debt of love” can become freedom for us rather than bondage?
Christ in you
Who will you choose to love today?
Playlist: Love each other.