by Philip Layton
Love is the fulfilment of the Law
- Should we submit to the authorities even when we disagree with them (vv 1-7)?
- Do you think verse 8 gives financial as well as practical and spiritual advice?
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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'
It’s likely that Paul is commenting on the subject of civil law in response to the tendency of some of the believers in Rome to fail to give due consideration to the requirements on them as citizens. Perhaps this was because they felt the religious rules they observed meant other rules had no significance. Paul is determined to correct that mistake.
As citizens they have duties to the community in which they live. They profit from the law and order provided for all so it is right they should share the monetary burden of providing this. Paul says it is right for God’s children to pay their civic dues so matters of cleanliness and health can be attended to. Taxes should be paid and respect offered to civic leaders. Debts must be repaid. It is shameful to do otherwise.
But, says Paul, religious laws must be respected as well; the commandments are not to be neglected (see vv 9-10). Adultery cannot be tolerated. Stealing and coveting the possessions of others is not acceptable and murder is out of the question. God’s people are to love their neighbours as themselves.
Having spoken of material things Paul moves on to spiritual matters. We are all indebted to our fellow Christians for the faithful compassion and love we receive from them. Such compassion is to be regarded as a paramount duty. Debts of love must be recognised and repaid.
Love is the law of all laws. It is not an option, it’s a requirement.
When it comes to love, we are all in debt to God. As lsaac Watts wrote: ‘Dear Saviour, I can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe! Here, Lord, I give myself away; ’tis all that I can do.’
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