What debt are we to pay daily and yet never pay off? The answer to this profound question is the focus of our next three meditations, which are taken from a sermon I preached at Cross Community Church. The messages were rooted in the following passage, which came from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul.
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 commandments 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)
The debt we are to pay daily and yet never pay off is the debt of love. It is important to pause for a moment to define this word love. The Greek (in which the New Testament was originally written) employs a number of words for love that are not in view here.
Philos is brotherly love between two people with shared interests; philos love steadily grows through a strong commitment. (Now you know why Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is called “The City of Brotherly Love”—it comes from the Greek!)
Eros is the root from which we get our English word “erotic.” Eros love is primarily emotional and sexual. It is characterized by an insatiable desire to be near its target; it changes suddenly; and it is based entirely on circumstances.
Storge is love for one who is dependent. It is a “motherly” love based on the relationship between the lover and the loved.
But the word used here in Romans 13 is not a feeling motivated by physical appearance, emotional attraction, or self-satisfaction …
The Greek agapao in this passage is from the root agape, which is a love that is as unconditional as it is sacrificial. Agape love finds its meaning and manifestation in the revelation of God in Christ Jesus.
So the debt every Christian owes, moment by moment, is the debt of agape love, a love that is unrestricted, unrestrained, unreserved, and unrelenting. It is volitional (a personal choice), unconditional (not motivated by hope of some return), and sacrificial (it loves regardless of the pain or cost).
So . . . how are you doing at paying down your debt? In the next blog we will dive a little deeper into this passage and discuss who it is to whom we owe this debt.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!