“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
[ ROMANS 13:8-10 ]
When it comes to passages of love in the Bible I think this takes #2 behind 1 Corinthians 13. The differences between the two passages on love are that 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what is love, while Romans 13 tells us the importance of love. Although this is good, what does the text mean when it says that love is the fulfillment of the law?
The first step in understanding this is that the law is referring to the Old Testament Jewish law. This law was stated in the Torah. The law was meant to help God’s people understand God’s character and learn how to live with Him. Yet, even though the law was laid out for Israel, the surrounding cultures influenced them and led them astray.
This is what the whole book of Judges is about. God’s people falling from the law then God raises up a judge/leader to lead them back to God. Eventually, Israel goes back to being swayed away from God and God has to raise another judge. This cycle continues until Israel gets a king. The law was perfect; God’s people were not. Do not be tricked into thinking that It’s God’s fault when things go crazy. If we were to listen to our Heavenly Father, then this world would look like Heaven. Yet, it is us who mess up the plan. Judges is a prime example of this.
Therefore, the law had to be fulfilled because the relationship between God and man was in turmoil. It was almost non-existent. So God, being rich in love, sent his son, Jesus–to show us how to have a relationship with God. He showed us how to love others and live according to the Father. When Jesus was teaching one day, his disciples asked him what was the greatest commandment. Which Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus is saying that love has to be our mark. As Christians, if we are known for something it has to be love.
Where does this bring us? We know that love is important. It is the mark of a Christian and that the law is fulfilled when we love because all commandments flow from love. So, what does that mean for me?
Jesus came to make it simple for us. We are called to love God and to love others. Yet, even though it is simple, that doesn’t make it easy.
Jesus did not come to take away the law, but to fulfill it. He fulfilled it through his blood. The grace Jesus poured out allows us to love others when everyone else turns away. We are no longer under the law, but of grace revealing itself through love. Christians cannot stand on the sideline expecting to see a transformation in themselves or others. The biggest transformation in your life is waiting on the other side of love. God brings the change when we choose to love. Right now, you must choose to love.
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For Your Name is my name and my name for Your Glory,
Forever and Ever, Amen.