It all comes back to love doesn’t it?
Love—it’s the one debt that is always outstanding and Paul says it’s an obligation! Just like your utilities, your car payment, or your mortgage, we’re to consistently and regularly pay our obligations. It seems trivial to compare love for others to the debts we owe – and yes, you really can’t compare them to love—but I think Paul is more concerned with our actions.
For example: people work diligently to pay their mortgage off early, they are willing to make huge sacrifices to do it! I think Paul wants us to have the same kind of fervor as we love our neighbors—as we live with the people God has put around us.
A mortgage will one day be paid off, and it will be something that we can look forward to as having completed, but not so with our love for others! It’s a debt that we can never pay off because Christ has already paid it. The fact is, we we’re incapable of paying it off.
Think about what has been done for us. Sometimes people may give their lives willingly for ones they deem as worthy—a friend, a relative, other “good” people—but Christ’s love goes beyond that. Christ’s love extends to those most unworthy of it: that’s you and me. He willingly took the punishment of those who tortured Him, hated Him, rebelled against Him, and cared nothing about Him, those who were most undeserving of His love (Romans 5:6-8). He gave the most He could give for those who deserved it the least! Paul wants us to have this same kind of sacrificial love; it’s the essence of godly love—Christ-like love—agape love. This is the God-like love that Paul is telling us to never pay off.
Christ love compels us to love! If we do not love people with the same, if not more, fervor we work at paying our debts then we’re missing the mark. It ought to be an indication that something is wrong, like a check engine light on the dash of your car. If we’re going to grow in Christlikeness, then we must love our neighbor, as Scripture commands, even though we will always fall short of the love required of us; ‘that perpetual debt of love’ will remain.
So, how are you doing at loving those around you with a Christ-like kind of love? Is there someone in your life that you’ve said to yourself, “I have loved him or her enough, I’m done.”? If you could talk to Paul right now, what do you think he would say to you?
Ask God to give you a heart for others… ask him to help you love with a Christ-like love.
By Jim Lewis
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