Summary: We're to love all life without limits.
Loving the Least
Rev. Brian Bill
How many of you watch infomercials? Afraid to admit it, aren’t you? In their current issue (February 2010) Consumer Reports tested 15 different products to find out which ones deceived, delivered or landed somewhere in between.
Here’s what they found about the appeal of infomercials: “The secret lies in neuroscience. Infomercials are carefully scripted to pump up dopamine levels in your brain, says Martin Lindstrom, an advertising expert and author of ‘Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy,’ which details how ads affected 2,000 research subjects.”
“Infomercials take viewers on a psychological roller-coaster ride,” Lindstrom says. The fun starts with dramatizations of a problem you didn’t know you had, followed by the incredible solution, then a series of ever more amazing product benefits, bonuses, and giveaways, all leading to the final thrilling plunge of an unbelievably low price. After the ride, Lindstrom says, “dopamine levels drop in 5 or 6 minutes. That’s why infomercials ask you to buy in the next 3 minutes.”
There’s a lot of good advice in this issue, including: pause ten minutes before buying, slow down the spellbinders, ask if you’d pay cash for it, consider other solutions, and calculate the real price. Here’s something I didn’t know. Have you ever wondered why most products cost “just $19.95”? It’s because people can part with 20 bucks without a lot of concern. According to one expert, a $19.95 product costs about $6 wholesale.
Are you wondering how some of your favorite products held up to Consumer Reports scrutiny? The “PedEgg” does remove calluses and dead skin but the testers were not wowed with the “ShamWow.” I’m sorry to be the one to give you some bad news about the “Snuggie,” because I know Ken Fulkerson really likes his. The basic problem is that it doesn’t fit right and it sheds when washed. They do have a Snuggie for dogs that I’m going to look into.
After spending two weeks focusing on how we’re to relate to government authorities, we’re going to look at the next three verses in Romans 13 and it’s my prayer that you and I will be wowed by the Word of God, for God never deceives and always delivers on His promises. Someone last week asked me when we would be done with the government stuff because he’s ready to move on. Another person told me she didn’t like the sermons on submission while another commented on how helpful they were. Go figure.
Turn in your Bibles to Romans 13:8-10: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.’” Since the word “love” is used five times in three verses, I want to propose this summary statement: We’re to love all life without limits.
Here’s where we’re headed today. We’re going to begin with interpretation and then we’re going to move to application as we allow God’s Word to be our authority as it relates to an issue in our culture today.
Interpreting God’s Word
I see two main points in this passage.
1. Pay off your dollar debts. Look at the first part of verse 8: “Let no debt remain outstanding…” This is in the present imperative which means that Paul is forbidding an action that is already going on. We could say it like this, “Do not keep on owing.” This is sometimes interpreted to mean that a Christian is never justified going into debt of any sort but the Bible never categorically forbids borrowing or lending. John MacArthur writes: “When borrowing is truly necessary, the money should be repaid as agreed upon with the lender, promptly and fully…and whatever is owed must be paid on time and in full.”
When considering whether or not to take out a loan, it’s wise to consult Proverbs 22:7: “…the borrower is servant to the lender.” And if we make a loan, Leviticus 25:35-35 warns us to not take advantage of people. This isn’t easy in our current economic climate but the idea is to pay your bills on time.
2. Keep paying on your love loan. I read this week that our country has a debt of 12 trillion dollars! That means that each citizen’s share is about $40,000. That sure seems like a debt that we will never be able to repay, doesn’t it? We’ve already learned in Romans that we have a debt to share the gospel (1:14), to the Holy Spirit to live a holy life (8:12), and to the government to pay our taxes (13:6). The rest of this passage declares that Christians have a type of perpetual indebtedness. We’re to pay what we can’t repay: “…Except the continuing debt to love one another.” Friends, we are under an obligation to constantly make payments on a debt that we can never pay off. Origen, an early church Father, said this: “The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay every day and forever owe.”