Keep Paying Your Love Debts
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
If you want to manage your relationships in a manner that is pleasing to God, then keep paying your love debts. You owe others love. This is due to the fact that you are created in the image of God. The Jewish people would say that their neighbor is a more narrowly defined group than God would define it. “Who is my neighbor?” Your enemy that you hate is your neighbor!
Paul is working through how we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is in application to what happens when we are not conformed to the world, but are transformed by the renewing of our minds. As such, there are other NT passages that act as complimentary to this life focus. James 3 and the actions that reflect differences between Godly and worldly wisdom. Ephesians 4 and 5 and the differences in a person who is renewed to look like Christ. Galatians 5 and the fruit of the flesh and spirit.
As followers of Christ, we are called to reflect His image and that will be demonstrated in the way that we love our neighbor! What does Paul emphasize here? He talks about owing right after paying taxes and giving honor to those who we owe honor. That specific exhortation that relates to those in authority, Paul now relates more generally to what we owe all people. So, let’s ask the question: “What do we owe other people?”
- What Do We Owe Others?
- Respect accorded to God’s image
- Do not murder
Cain and Abel. The story of jealousy and competition.
James 3 talks about bitter jealousy and vain ambition as foundations of worldly wisdom. Here is what happens when things are taken to their natural conclusion.
Genesis 4: Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
We compare ourselves with others and then when we don’t do as well, instead of improvement, we can seek to bring others down. There are reasons that we do not do as well as others. Environmental factors, hereditary factors, health, education, intelligence, strength, attitude, etc. Life is not fair. You know what will make it fair? And this is where our culture is right now in a lot of ways. What makes it fair is tearing down others.
What can we do instead?
The alternative is to celebrate others! Why? Because their abilities and accomplishments reflect the image of God!!!
- Cover shame Genesis 3 and 9: A new covenant!
1Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind
20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.”
Noah is drunk and naked in his tent. It’s not a good look. But there is something worse! Adam and Eve sin in Genesis 3 and they make a covering of fig leaves. They are naked and feel shame and seek to cover their shame. Fig leaves will not last. God makes them a covering of an animal skin (the first sacrifice). God covers their sin in a much more permanent way!!! God covers shame.
Ham sees Noah’s shame and shares it. He seeks to extend it. He does not respect the image of God in his father. God curses him. His two brothers enter the tent backward, they do not look at their father’s shame, but they cover it. This is a way for us to respect the image of God in each other. We should cover each other’s shame! Love covers a multitude of sins!!!
- Concern for their interests
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
- A life and voice of truth
Love is costly. It’s like forgiveness. The last part of Matthew 5 should make us see this.
Let your light so shine before men.
You are the salt of the earth
You are the light of the world
These three statements in Matthew 5 before the foray into the law.
- Love is an Action
- Fundamentally acting like God
Keeping the law is love for God.
Love as God loves Matt 5:48
Be merciful as God is merciful Luke 6:36
We are created to reflect God’s image Genesis 1 and 2
We are new creation to do good works Eph 2:10
Why do you call me Lord and not do what I say.
If you love Me, keep my commandments.
I John 4:12 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
- Our actions regardless of our feelings
Love is not a feeling in this instance.
It is acting in the best interests of others as defined by God’s character. And it is done despite the fact that others do not believe that God is there or that God matters.
Love is serving your spouse at home when they don’t deserve it. Love is serving your employer and fellow employees at work.
Love is washing the feet of the disciples. Jesus gave us that example and tells us directly to copy it.
- Love God first
We love God. And because we love God, we love His creation.
We love because God first loved us. We love God in return and because of that love, we love others because He loves them. We can’t say to God, “I love you and then hate others that He loves.”
So, serve others who do not deserve it. Do that by choice because you love God.
III. Love Fulfills the Law
- It does no harm
Murder, adultery and theft etc.
- It does not covet
The source of murder, adultery and theft
- Set your heart to love the law
Psalms 119: 165 Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.
Psalms 119: 97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.