Paul is again stressing the importance of “love” as an essential ingredient of our “in Christ” life, especially as we serve others (cf. 12:9-10).
The link of this section is with “debt” and with v. 7 “owe” both have the same root. Although we owe submission to governing authorities instituted by God, we owe all people, especially believers, much more.
“Let not debt remain outstanding,”… Is Paul saying the Christian shouldn’t borrow money?
Do we have an obligation to make good on our debts?
What about bankruptcy? Foreclosure? Short sales? Vehicles? School loans?
A continual question for me: how is my life choices, especially finances in this context, reflecting my “in Christ” status? Does my life bring honor and attraction to God?
Should we be concerned about “our testimony” when it comes to our attitudes, speech, reactions to life events, politics, laws, even finances?
What exception to “outstanding debt” does Paul provide?
v. 8 “…except the continuing debt to love one another…” How have I loved “another” this past week?
Who is our fellowman? The literal meaning is: “The other person” (Harrison, 1976).
God calls us to love fellow believers and “all others.”
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:10)
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. (1 Thes 3:12)
Can we genuinely love others without the Spirit of God?
Can we fulfill the law without God the Holy Spirit? (cf. 8:4)
The “Spirit” in us is lived out practically by demonstrating Galatians 5:22-23. Against such fruit there is no law.
v. 9-10 The commandments: Do not:
1. Adultery- a preservation of sacredness of the family dynamic.
2. Murder- sanctity of human life
3. Stealing- people have the right to own property
4. Covet- a call to control our desires (cf. 7:7)
These four and all the others are summed up in the positive rule or “word”: to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (cf. Lev 19:18; Matt 22:39)
Harrison said, “So the Spirit produces in the believer a love to which the law can offer no objection, since love fulfills what the law requires, something the law itself cannot do.”
“Neighbor” literally means “one who is near.” (cf. Luke 10:31ff) We are called to be merciful to human needs, especially the need for salvation!
However, are we really called to be merciful to all people or just those “in need?” What about homosexuals? What about Muslims? Mormons? Atheist? Etc.,
May our gracious and merciful God demonstrate love, kindness, gentleness, and respect through us so that “others” especially “one who is near” will respond to God’s call and repent (Rom 2:4; 2Pet 3:9).
Love does no harm to anyone, not emotionally or physically, nor overtly or passively. In fact, Paul said earlier, Rom 12:18 “If it is possible, [as far as it depends on you,] live at peace with everyone.” (bracket added).
v. 10b Love and Law of Christ: If we truly love Jesus we will strive to live in obedience to the law of Christ (Jn 13:34). Is love an action word? (cf. Gal 6:2)
v. 11 “And do this, understanding the present time.” Do what? Maintain Love! A vertical and horizontal love, especially as we understand the present time!
This section calls us to be alert with hope and sobriety. Why? Salvation is near! Praise God!
v. 12-13 (cf. 1 Thes 5:1-11) Why do we need an “armor of light?” Eph 6 Warfare! Old life vs. our New life in Christ!
Darkness = evil and sin
Light = those who have experienced salvation
Are we called to live as though “the day” is here? Jesus is “here”(in us) and is “coming!”
Those of the world behave as expected without Christ. Should we be surprised about what the ungodly and anti-God do? Were we not among them at one time? Therefore, what should be our response?
Love! Cry out, on their behalf, for mercy! Just as I was given mercy, grant repentance Lord we pray for the ungodly, especially those in our sphere of influence. Who in my circles, obvious pagan, am I praying for?
Remember God’s kindness leads to repentance. What Paul describes here:
2. Sexual misconduct
3. Contention and Quarreling
Behaviors expected from those lost in darkness. We pray for the light of Christ to transform others as he did for us.
v. 14 Putting on clothing: Called to “put on” our Lord Jesus. We need to appropriate, which is a deliberate acceptance of the lordship of Jesus over every aspect of my life.
Is everything under the control of Christ: my motives, desires, deeds?
Haven’t we already put on Christ at Salvation and expressed this transformation through baptism? (cf. Gal 3:27)
Is there a need for decisive renewal? Is this especially true when we allow the sinful nature to direct our days, hours, minutes?
How do I know when I need to “cloth myself” afresh?
1. Holy Spirit conviction?
2. Admonishment from a brother?
3. When we make ourselves accountable to brothers?
Does putting on Christ take effort on our part? I’ve trusted Christ as my Savior, won’t a life of godliness and love automatically follow? NO!
Complacency, slumber, sin, etc., halts spiritual growth, the manifestation of fruit, and any potential harvest through us! Do I observe, even feel the presence of “fruit” in my life every day? (cf. Gal 5:22ff)
Do we need to exercise ceaseless vigilance lest the flesh prevail? Allen (1986) said, “Put on the Character of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Harrison (1976) said, “If union with Christ is to be experientially successful, it must be accompanied by a constant reckoning of oneself as dead to sin and alive to God and his holy will.”
Persevere in Love, in Christ!
The International Bible Commentary. (1986) F.F. Bruce (ed).
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. (1976) Gaebelein, F.E. (ed).
NIV Study Bible (1984).