The debt of love
He writes in verses 8-10,
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 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.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. – Romans 13:8-10
When he says owe no one anything, he’s referring to what he just said about paying taxes. We are to pay what we owe. Just as the Lord said to render unto Caesar what is his, we owe Caesar our taxes.
But that’s not Paul’s main point in this verse. His main point in this verse is that there is a debt that will remain outstanding for all of us, and that is to love one another. This is a debt with a balance that we all will be paying for all our lives.
The Lord paid the debt of our sin on the cross. But He hasn’t left us without debt. We are still expected by our Master, who lavished us with his love, to now pay that back, which works itself out in our loving each other.
Now, let’s not get Paul wrong. He’s not saying that salvation is contingent upon paying this debt. He would firmly proclaim to us still that we are saved by grace through faith, and not works. But as a saved people, we owe it to the Savior to love His people.
According to John, Jesus says that just as He has loved us, so we are to love one another. This was no mere suggestion by the Savior. We owe this to Him.
Back to the passage, Paul goes on to say that the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. What he’s saying is that much of what Christ commands is simply a matter of loving one another. Many commandments are, in essence, subcommands of the commandment He gave us to love one another.
Paul then gives some examples. He quotes the law about adultery, about murder, about theft, about covetousness, and he’s saying that all of these are summed up in the commandment, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor. And so love, Paul says, is the fulfilling of the law.
The Christian life is not without it’s interpersonal issues. Paul knows this; he wrote extensively about it to the Romans and especially the Corinthians. And even now in our world, it continues to be a struggle against the flesh to love one another. Remember, sheep, that it is our debt. Consider the love that Christ has given to us and let that be the standard for our love to one another.