Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man 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.”
Paul’s discussion of believers’ obligations to civil authorities evidently sparked Paul’s thinking concerning believers’ debts to others. It’s a powerful passage. He commanded his readers to not stop paying their obligations. In fact, the verse literally says “Do not keep on owing anyone anything. except loving one another.” In other words, whatever debt you have, work to pay it off; give honor and respect; pay your bills. But when it comes to love for our neighbors, that’s different. We’re to always have this debt; we’re to always continue to have a debt to loving one another (Witmer).
“The debt to love one another”— can never be paid off! The obligation to love has no limit. We are to love not only those in the family of God, but our “fellow man”. As God’s love extended to all, so must our concern reach out to believer and nonbeliever. It’s such a radical Idea! It’s one that Jesus taught us when He said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt 5:44–45).”
Obviously, love will take different forms depending on the recipient, but the decision to “place the welfare of others over that of our own” may not be limited to those of like faith. Paul added that whoever loves his “fellow man” has satisfied all that the law requires (Mounce).
We’re called to love people, to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, who’s our “neighbor”? It’s anyone we encounter in life who needs our help. Love is the inevitable response of a heart truly touched by God. Think back to the parable Jesus taught about the good Samaritan. Understand that God’s love manifests itself through the loving acts of His children. Where love is absent, any claim to a family relationship is merely pretense.
In our present culture, enamored as it is with the cult of self-esteem, it is necessary to point out that Jesus’s words are “not a command to love oneself but a recognition of the fact that we naturally do so (Stott).” John Stott observes that Jesus spoke of a first and second commandment, but never of a third. He also argues that agapē is selfless love, which cannot be turned in on itself, and that self-love is the essence of sin. What is commanded is that we are to have the same loving regard for others that we have instinctively for ourselves. Love never wrongs another person. It fully satisfies all that the law requires (Mounce).”
Take some time now and focus on the command “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Consider ways that you express understanding and care for yourself. Bring to mind a person to whom you ought to be more loving. How might you extend some of those same kindnesses to that person?
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest. Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.