Summary: Most of us would probably be quick to say that loving and serving God is very important, but often fail to view it as urgent. Paul brings a sense of urgency to our spiritual life in the text today. He wants to jar his readers out of their complacency and
The Urgency of Godliness
Intro: What comes to mind when you hear the word, “Urgent?” It can be an unpleasant word that is associated with tragedy. Most of us would rather not receive an urgent phone call because it might mean that someone we love is hurt or in trouble. Then there are Urgent Care services that remind us how fragile we are. If you have a job with deadlines, then everything becomes urgent as you near the deadline.
-Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, the tyranny of the urgent. In fact, a guy named Charles Hummel wrote a book by that name. The book is a simple introduction to time management using the following four steps: decide what's important, discover how one's time is now being spent, budget the hours and follow through. Sounds simple.
-The problem most of us face is that many of the things that are truly most important in our lives do not appear to be urgent. However, there are dozens of things in life that scream “URGENT!” when they really aren’t that important (certain phone calls, various appointments, your favorite show that you don’t want to miss, that moment when you realize you forgot it was your wife’s birthday – okay… Urgent! Important! Possibly a matter of national security!)
-Most of us would probably be quick to say that loving and serving God is very important. But again, we often fail to view it as urgent; therefore, we fail to act on it, because the other voices and demands of life crowd it out.
-Paul brings a sense of urgency to our spiritual life in the text today. He wants to jar his readers out of their complacency and spur them on to following Jesus wholeheartedly. So let’s join him in Romans 13:8 and see for ourselves the urgency of living every moment of every day for the glory of God!
1. Make Up (8-10)
Romans 13:8-10 8Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
-If you recall the setting of the book of Romans, the Jews were highly concerned about the lack of Torah observance among the Gentile Christians. The Roman church had been in the hands of Gentile Christians for a period of about 5 years, during which no Jews were allowed in the city of Rome. Since they had returned to Rome a few years earlier, the Jews had been seeking to reestablish the same core values and honor for the Torah that had been in the Roman church earlier. But during the 5-year absence of the Jews, the Gentile believers had discovered that they could honor Jesus without all the Jewish customs and traditions. So, there was a constant struggle between the Jewish way of following Jesus and the non-Jewish way.
-So Paul again seeks to reconcile the two groups. He tries to show the Jews that loving one another is the best Torah Observance you can do! You might get a lot of details right about the Law, but if you aren’t loving the people God loves, then you are missing the most important ingredient.
-It is interesting that the 10 commandments can be divided into 2 basic categories that deal first with our relationship with God and then with mankind: The first four primarily focus on our response to God (Don’t have any other gods, no idols, do not misuse God’s name, keep the Sabbath day holy as a way of honoring God). The remaining six commands focus on how we should treat one another (honor your parents, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie about someone else, don’t covet what others have). Paul reiterates the last 5, saying that love will motivate you to do the right thing by others.
-However, it is possible for a person to do pretty well on these 5 but still not really love those around them. That’s why we need God’s help. We need to be in a relationship with Him that involves worship, honor, love, and obedience. The Bible says in 1 John 4 that we love because He first loved us. When we respond to His love for us, then we are given the capacity for loving God and others.
-So, instead of trying to shame the Gentile believers into living like Jews, Paul tells them they have a perpetually unpaid debt love to love one another. Those 2 words “one another” hints of the unity that should exist between them. It speaks of relationship and interaction. Love another! Forgive one another! Encourage one another! It is very likely that some relationship damage had occurred among the two groups in the church at Rome. People on both sides were offended by something someone else had said or done. So this is a call for them to Make up! Forgive! Seek forgiveness! Love one another more than you love to be right! Love is what’s right, especially among believers who claim to worship the same God!