Summary: The one basis for God’s system of society is LOVE.
The Believer’s Relationship To Others
* Life is built on relationships. It has been long said, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” The part of this equation which we miss is that our relationships have a huge impact on the person we are & that we become.
* As we began the study of Chapter 13 (last week) we discovered the Believer’s Biblical relationship to the government. In verse 7, Paul speaks of paying all of our debts and then transitions to our relationship to others. In this way He ties his personal teachings to the teachings of Jesus and both center our relationship in this thing called “love.” So let’s think about love.
1. The Debt of Love – Debt is a common word for us today. This nation has a staggering load. Have you ever wondered why? While the answer may be complicated on a systemic level but on a simplistic level the government of the USA only REFLECTS the values of the citizens who control it. Can we expect a government of, by, and for the people; a government who is elected by the people as a representative of the people to NOT be ALIKE the people? I think not. So we have a country who very well introduced to this thing called debt. (Snoopy cartoon—letter to IRS, “I’m writing to cancel my subscription, please take my name off your mailing list.” Bills are like weeds, they keep coming back. One overextended man handled the stress this way. He received a call from a creditor and said, “Here is what I do. Every month I put all my bills in a hat and pull out 5 of them. Those are the ones which I pay. You call me again, and you won’t get in the hat.”)
* Many people will verse 8 and teach that, as a matter of economics, we should NEVER go into debt for any reason. While it is likely true that God’s best for us would be to not incur any debt, it is equally true that to take this one passage and make it all about money is to take away from the full meaning of this verse. I’ll offer to you that one reason it is better not to be in debt is this; when you owe a person money, every time you see them that debt is the first thing which comes to your mind. At that point, the things of God (I.E. whether they are saved or not, walking with God or not, etc) are pretty much forgotten because, for the person of integrity, they think of that debt.
* The real message of this passage is to be a person who owes LOVE to every person. Think about it like this; the same way you are consumed with the financial debt you owe another is the way you should be consumed with love for another.
* Some will say, “I don’t owe anyone a debt of love. What have they done to deserve my love?” Our debt comes from the debt established by Jesus’ death on the cross. We have sung about this for years, “But drops of grief can never repay the debt of love I owe.
* Here Lord, I give myself away, it’s all that I can do.” I submit that the debt we owe is to love, not an ‘if’ kind of love or a ‘because of’ kind of love, but an ‘INSPITE OF’ type of love. The reason is that God loved us. He loved us when we were unlovely and unlovable! In fact, in His love Jesus paid our sin debt when we were flat broke. Think about that. There is an old song which says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay.” We had no love until He gave us love. Yet, He gave us such love that according to His own words, “the world will know us by our love.”
2. The Design of Love - The design of anything determines its strength, its endurance, and even its attractiveness. Love is no different. True love, ‘agape’ love, is designed by God to fulfill God’s law. In our text we see the summary of God’s law in this, “to love our neighbor as our self.” From this statement it would seem that, all too well, Paul understands the 21st century “all about me” culture. But to understand the depth of what Paul is saying, let’s see if we can construct a model of this type of love.
* The foundation of this design is not even mentioned in this scripture because Paul senses that His readers already understand the truth. The foundation of love is to LOVE GOD and to have EXPERIENCED GOD’S love. In Matthew 22 a teacher asked Jesus for the greatest commandment and without hesitation our Lord responded, “Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” I submit that this kind of love for God is a “life-changing” kind of love. This past Wednesday my family drove to be with our son to celebrate engagement to his girlfriend. It was a great event. In about 15 months, because of their love for each other (and more) they plan to marry. When they marry, their life will never be the same. Now, because of their love, they will defer to each other. Because of their love, they will seek to make the other happy. When you totally and completely love another person, it changes your thought processes, your lifestyle, your attitudes, and much more. It is the same with love for God. Our love for Him changes our lives. Conversely, we cannot offer this type of love if we don’t know God. 1 John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love, does not know God, because God is love.” The foundation of love is to love God. We cannot give what we don’t have any more than we can tell what we don’t know. Until we experience God’s love, we have trouble giving it.