Romans 13:8-10 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one 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 covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Is Paul making the argument that we should never be in debt? Actually not! Paul’s encouragement here is that we have more important things to do than to acquire so much stuff that we become in debt. Paul took the second coming of Jesus seriously, as well as the priority of loving one another over the focus on acquisition and debt. The Bible does teach us not to get involved in frivolous debt that we cannot repay, or that feeds our selfish, indulgent desires. We might classify this as consumer debt or addictive spending debt. With this debt, we do not have the discipline to save before purchasing, and therefore no capacity to be generous to the things of God because we have been selfish to our own desires.
The debt that should never be paid in full is the continued debt to love one another. This is the new commandment that Jesus gave for us to love one another “just as” He loved us. His love for us was a sacrificial. It was a love that cost. It was not easy, routine, or unnoticeable. It was a love that was not about His own comfort, but rather the eternal comfort for us. It was a love that put His life on the line for the sake of our lives. It was a love that paid a debt – the debt of sin – versus wanting a debt repaid. This kind of love was visibly evident and therefore revealed the heart of God.
The expectation God has of those who follow Jesus is not to repay the sacrificial cost of the cross, but to live for others in the same way, from a genuine heart of gratitude that comes from receiving heaven, forgiveness, and eternity.
Jesus said: ”Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
God wants us to be generous because that is who God is. Our generosity of love toward others and love for God is visible through giving and helping those less advantaged. This is the point Paul wants to make with Jesus’ followers. Focus and make yourself available for what is MOST important – loving and making a difference in the lives of our neighbors. That is the true mark of a Christian.
Lord Jesus teach us your way. Grow our hearts to love as you love. Open our eyes to see the needs of our neighbors. Remove our self-focused values and increase our desire to sacrifice as you did so others may truly live.