Thursday (3/26/20) - Lord God, by your Word fill me with a spirit of love and servanthood
Romans 13:8-14 - Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Prior to Christ’s ministry, the nation of Israel lived by the rules of the Mosaic Law. The understanding was that if they followed these laws perfectly, they would be right with God and they would be “good”. When Jesus came on to the scene, he turned that mindset upside down. He pointed out that the intent with the Mosaic Law was not to save them but to show them they needed to be saved. Paul repeated that message in his letters to the church.
Here in our passage today, Paul is reminding the church in Rome that they can keep the whole law by simply doing one thing – loving your neighbor. That was the answer that Jesus gave to a lawyer who asked which commandment was the most important to follow. That was the answer that Jesus modeled for us throughout his ministry. And Paul calls this our “obligation” or what we owe as Christians today.
I think of the many obligations I have in life. I am a pastor and that job brings a number of things I am expected to do like preaching, counseling and caring for people. I am also a husband and father so there is an obligation to be a good spouse and parent. And as a Christian I have an obligation to love others. Paul says that this is such and important obligation for us that it actually fulfills all the requirements of God’s law.
Don’t misunderstand this. Paul is NOT saying that if we just love each other and do good things for each other we can earn our salvation. Throughout the New Testament we see that salvation is through faith in Christ alone and has nothing to do with our works. We cannot earn salvation and we can never repay God for our salvation. But when we receive salvation, we now have and obligation love others because of how we were loved by Christ. When I understand the richness of God’s love shown to me through Christ my first reaction should be to show this love to others.
And I think Paul’s reminder is so relevant for us today. The days are dark right now. People are struggling and they need to hear the good news of Christ. You have an amazing opportunity right now to be the light of Christ in someone’s life who desperately needs it. You just have to be willing to love.