Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Romans 13:1-14

The middle of today's reading really spoke to me. I am not sure why this particular passage spoke to me, it is a common theme repeated in the Bible; perhaps it is Paul’s use of a debt analogy. The passage I am referring to is verses 8 and 9, "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."

There is a certain paradox in Paul's words. In order to get out of debt to the law, we have to get into debt to love. To me this is extremely liberating. Instead of being in debt to something to which we can never fully comply (perfectly keeping all of the laws of the Old Testament), we are free to focus on what we can do (love our neighbor as ourselves).

Why is loving others called a debt by Paul? Simple, we are permanently in debt to Christ for the love he poured out on us and the freedom he bought for us. The way Jesus asks us to repay this debt is to love others the way we love ourselves.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves is a simple way to say take care of others with the same natural motivation that we care for ourselves. Each of us tries not to let ourselves go hungry. We each try to clothe ourselves. We try to make sure there is a roof over our head. We try to make sure we are not cheated or injured. This is the way we love ourselves and thus this is the way we are called to love our neighbor.

Finally Paul points out that with each day the time for our judgment is that much closer. What will be the final balance of our debt when that time comes?

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