Romans chapter 13

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. – Vs 10 NLT

Love has everything to do with it. Love it the key to life within the body of Christ AND within the world in general. As Christ-followers we are called to a life characterized by love. We have been shown love and we are to show love. We are to be loved in the same way in which we have been loved – selflessly, expecting nothing in return. Paul stressed the quality of love in chapter 12 and he expands on it in chapter 13. Listen to what he said in chapter 12:

“Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10 NLT

Now in chapter 13, in the middle of talking about how we should relate to those in authority over us, Paul once again brings up the topic of love. He’s talking about paying taxes to the government when he says, “Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law” (Vs 8 NLT). I don’t know about you, but the words taxes, debt, and love just don’t seem to go together. I don’t know that I have ever paid my taxes with any degree of love as part of the process. I just don’t LOVE to pay my taxes. I don’t LOVE to pay back debt. So what is Paul saying? I think his point is that we have a greater responsibility than just being good citizens who pay their taxes on time and their debts in full. We are to be living lives that are characterized by love. How many times have you heard a pastor or speaker use Paul’s statement, “owe nothing to anyone” as a proof text against borrowing money or going in debt? But is that really Paul’s point? I don’t think so. His real message is about love. His point is that “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Vs 10). When we love, we are keeping the law of God in its entirety. You can’t love and commit adultery. You can’t love and murder. You can’t love and steal from someone else. You can’t love and covet what someone else has. You can’t love and refuse to pay your taxes. You can’t love and neglect to pay back money you have borrowed. You can’t love and not honor the government, whether you agree with it or not. And that includes the guy who occupies that oval office whose political agenda you just might not agree with.

All this talk about love makes me think of the great “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians where Paul eloquently elaborates on the topic of love.

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 MSG

Then Paul sums it all up with the words, “There are three things that will endure––faith, hope, and love––and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). When it is all said and done and we find ourselves standing before God in heaven, we will realize that only one thing remains a constant: Love. We will no longer need faith or hope. Our faith will be realized and our hope fulfilled. But we will continue to love and be loved for all eternity. So if that is the case, what should be our greatest priority now? Love. We are to love, knowing… “how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So don’t live in darkness. Get rid of your evil deeds. Shed them like dirty clothes. Clothe yourselves with the armor of right living, as those who live in the light. We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior. Don’t participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy. But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don’t think of ways to indulge your evil desires” (Romans 13:11-14 NLT). What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

Father, You have called us to be a people who love. But I have to confess that I find that hard to do sometimes. I want to hold back my love. I want to love selectively. I want to love those who love me back. I want to love conditionally. I want my love to always be accompanied by warm, fuzzy feelings or emotions. But You have called us to love one another and to love our enemies. You have said that the primary way the world will know we are Your disciples is because of how we love one another. Love is the key. Help me to love more. Help me to realize that nothing I do has any value if it is done without love. Love really is the key to it all. The same kind of love Your Son showed for me on the cross. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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