Love is the Fulfillment of the Law—Romans 13:8-10
"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." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10)
Love is an incredible thing. Love is what initiated God's redemption plan for us. Perhaps the most well known verse in the entire Bible says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" ( John 3:16 ). Because of God's great love for us God sent Jesus into humanity to recue mankind from the power of darkness and bring us into fellowship with Him. In the same way, as believers, we ought to love one another, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" ( I John 4:7-8 ). Our love for each other shows that be belong to the truth because "God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" ( I John 4:12 ).
Paul reminds us in today's passage that we are to leave "no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another". As believers we should owe no man. We should be free from the bondage of debt. We should pay in full for the things we have and the thing we buy. This goes back to the previous verses identifying that we should pay what we owe, whether taxes, salaries, honor or respect ( Romans 13:7 ). The only debt that we should have is the debt to love one another. This obligation comes out of the realization of what Christ did for us. Once we understand how he overcame every barrier that sin put between us to bring us back into a restored relationship with the Father, it gives us a new perspective about our fellow mankind. We didn't deserve His grace or His mercy but because He loved us we received both. In the same way, because he loved us we should also extend both grace and mercy to each other.
The amazing thing about this is that Paul said this love we extend to one another fulfills and summarizes the rest of the law. All of these commandments hinge on how we treat others. If we love then we will not murder, steal and covet our neighbor's things. Love fulfills the intent of the law because all things can be summarized and fulfilled by love. Paul said in I Corinthians 13: 3, if I have not love, I am nothing. Love will never do harm to one another, therefore it meets all the requirements of the law.
When questioned about the Law Jesus recited the exact same observation. "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." ( Mark 12:28-31 ). By loving God with everything we are, we fulfill the law because we are looking to him for grace and mercy. This love equips and enables us to love one another in a deep and genuine way, showing that we are walking in His truth. This is the only debt that we should owe, the debt to love one another because "Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" ( I John 4:7 ).
Today, I am thankful that God is love. I rejoice that he demonstrated His incredible love for us in the person of Jesus Christ. I am forever changed because of this love and I know that it extends to those around me because he has enabled me to love deeply. Today, I pray that you let His love flow through you and touch those around you. May you be a blessing and a light for His kingdom in this dark world, amen.