Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 13:8
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8
Paul is very clear in this verse. We are not to be indebted to anyone. In earlier verses in this chapter, Paul tells them they are to be subject to the government. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Romans 13:1-2. And this includes the paying of taxes. “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.” Romans 13:6. Whatever is owed to someone, pay it to them. If it is money pay them. If it is property or goods, give it to them. If it is respect, give that to them. Basically, if we owe anything to anyone, pay it. This is our responsibility to those who govern us or provide goods and services we need. However, there is a different standard for all others.
In our focus verse we read, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8. In other words, pay all you owe to everyone, and let your only outstanding debt be the debt of love. Jesus said this as recorded in the book of Matthew when in answer to a question from a Jewish lawyer said, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. We are to show the same love to others as we show ourselves. Thus, in loving our neighbor we fulfill the law.
Now there are many ways in which we can fulfil this. One of them is to help someone who is troubled. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2. We are to have sympathy, feel for each other, and consider the case of a distressed brother or sister like this distress was our own. Paul wrote to the Colossians the following, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14. This verse fully explains how we are to love our neighbor. We are to have compassion on our neighbors, being humble and meek with patience, helping others through their difficult times by helping them bear their burdens. And we are to forgive them just as Christ forgave us, even if we feel they do not deserve it.
This verse says we are to love our neighbor and not cause them harm by holding back whatever is owed to them. All debts are to be addressed and paid; however, we are to give them all the love we have. This means treat them as Christ did us, whereby He sacrificed His life to save ours. And this is the love we are to show others. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12. This is the type of love we are to have for our neighbor, even those who hate, despise, or want nothing to do with us.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.