The love debt
Last week, we began this series with Romans Chapter 13 Themed “Owe No Man.” The Lord made it clear to us that as Christians, we must render to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, (tithes to whom tithes are due), customs to whom customs are due, fear to whom fear is due and honour to whom honour is due. (7) (Appreciation, gratitude, service, respect, reward and gifts to whom they are due).
We must endeavour to owe no man anything, except to love one another. (8) From that same verse, we have our second topic, “The Love Debt.” It becomes clear that, while we can strive not to owe anything, there is something we cannot but owe and that thing is LOVE.
This means love is a debt which we naturally owe one another in the family, especially in the house of faith. We should feel that we “owe” this to all people, and though by acts of kindness we may be constantly discharging it, yet we should note that it can “never” be fully met, as long as there is an opportunity to do good. Love is indeed a debt we all owe.
(A) Love: What A Debt?
Love as debt is indeed exceedingly great. If you owe no man anything, but you owe men, love, your debt is great. The love debt is great because,
– The Creditors are so Many. Love is a debt due to all men. It is due to so many, your family, church members, co-workers, neighbours and all men.
– The Liabilities are so numerous. It requires so much to pay it, sometimes our lives. (1Jn 3:16)
– The Discharge can never be Complete. The more it is paid, the more that is felt to be due. The principle is deepened and made more active by the practice. It makes us godlike and Christ-like (Eph 4:32; Eph 5:1-2; 1Jn 4:8). Every payment of it gladdens and enlarges the heart.
(B) The Love Debt: The Characteristics.
The law of love in relation to one another is simply interpreted that we do no “ill” to one another. (10). Rather, it seeks to do one another good, and would thus fulfill all the purposes of justice and truth, which we owe one another.
In order to illustrate this, Apostle Paul, in verse 9, runs over the laws of the Ten Commandments in relation to our neighbour and shows that all those laws proceeded out of the principle that we are to “love” one another and that love would prompt them all. The law of love simply requires you love your neighbour as yourself (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
A male Christian, who runs a grocery store, discovered that people were taking advantage of him, buying things on credit, refusing to pay with excuses that they did not have money. He then decided to put a notice on his board that he would publish the names of his debtors in thirty days. It worked, many then began to pay and many promised to pay on the next payday. Love does not take undue advantage of others.
Love is indeed the fulfillment of the law. It is the payment of the mother of all debts. Let us strive to love one another Correctly, Completely and Continuously. A class of little girls was learning to spell words. They spelled a number of small words, such as “pig,” “cat,” “dog,” “cow,” and amused themselves by imitating the sounds of those animals. Then little Mary was asked to spell “love.” She then ran and threw her arms around the teacher’s neck and kissed her on the cheek. “We spell ‘love’ that way at our house,” she said. The girls laughed, but the teacher said, “That is a beautiful way; but do you know another way to spell ‘love’?” “Oh, yes,” cried Mary, “I spell love this way,” and she began to put in order the books on her teacher’s desk. “I spell love by helping everybody when they need me.”
Love is the debt we owe, and we must continue to pay, though we can never pay up. It is time to love one another. In this year of our abounding grace, let us abound in love as well. Shalom.
Rev. Dr Israel Kristilere. Shepherdhill Baptist Church, (Sanctuary of Grace & Glory)
Baptist Academy Compound, Obanikoro, Lagos.