As we continue to move through Romans, we saw last week how Christians interact with authorities in our world. This isn’t just about government authority but relates to our boss at our job, officers of the law, and other authorities. And we do this because God has granted authority, and we want to acknowledge that. But sometimes that authority is used for unrighteous decisions. And we are called at that moment to keep ourselves in righteousness and not succumb to the unrighteous actions of authorities.
There is a struggle to realize that love is not an emotion. The feeling that we call love, like when we say we love our dogs, or love food, or all the other things that we say we love, is not the love we see here. When Paul speaks of loving others, it is an action or a command given. It falls outside of how we feel or the emotion we are experiencing.
In , the Pharisees ask Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus responds that the first is to love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul. The second, Jesus said, was to love your neighbor as yourself. We often talk about how our vertical relationship with God and how that will affect the horizontal relationships with those around us.
So fast forward and let’s think about what Paul is staying here. Paul has already talked about loving God and how that love is played out in our lives. Here Paul is talking about our love to others. He says to not owe any debt to another person except the debt of loving that person. This is not some sort of debt where we are trying to earn something back. We cannot do this to earn someone else’s love, or getting something out. God loves us. It isn’t an emotion but a reality. And his ultimate act of love was giving his son on the cross to pave a path of salvation between us and him. And it is reflecting this selfless love of God toward others.
Paul reminds us that if we truly love others, we would do unto others what we want to do unto you. Jesus didn’t say, don’t do to others what we wouldn’t want to be done to us. Love does not look for ways to not do bad things to others. God so loved the world that he gave his only son. At that time we were not doing anything to earn love. It is hard to love someone who won’t reciprocate or who may come against you. But we want to reflect God’s love and love others in spite of anything other than being connected to God in love.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (ESV)
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)
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.” (ESV)