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)
In the previous blog, we looked at the Greek word agape, which Paul was inspired to provide to describe this unrestricted, unrestrained, unreserved, and unrelenting love; today I’d like to unpack the Greek word allelon, from which we get the English phrase “one another,” and which the New Testament often employs to refer to the relationship between believers. But here allelon is not limited to the body of Christ. It refers to EVERYONE! Here are a few Scripture passages which reveal this truth:
As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)
The “all people” here means exactly what it says—ALL PEOPLE—including those who do not belong to the family of faith.
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for
you. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
Here “each other” identifies the family of believers, and “everyone else” identifies everyone else! We are to love everyone, without exception. The reason for this is rooted in creation and the fact that all men without exception are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Francis Schaeffer offered this profound explanation:
All men are our neighbors, and we are to love them as ourselves. We are to do this on the basis of creation, even if they are not redeemed, for all men have value because they are made in the image of God. Therefore they are to be loved even at great cost.
This wonderful truth takes us from our natural tendency to be “tribal minded” (caring only for the members of our “tribe”—that is, our family, community or nation) to becoming “mission minded” (caring for all people, from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation), regardless of cost or circumstance.
So . . . how are you doing in paying down your debt to all people? Do you find it easier to love only those in your “tribe” and those who love you in return? By nature, the answer for all of us is “Yes.” But by the new nature, which was given us by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are equipped and empowered to put the Gospel on display and make God attractive by loving others—all others—even when we would rather not!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!