Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
We fulfill the law with love. Jesus stresses the commands to love God and love others, and under those two laws, we cover all other laws. Loving God and loving others includes not committing adultery, not murdering, not stealing, not coveting. But in order to cover all these commandments and many more, we have to love God and love others as He intends. We love with God’s love, not with our own distortion of love.
Love isn’t something we do and move on. We don’t pay our love dues and coast for a while. Loving others is one responsibility we cannot escape. It is a debt we never fully pay. God’s love is unending. Our expression of it should be as well.
Expressing unending love isn’t something we can do in our own strength. We don’t put “love God and love others” on our to-do list every day and check it off as we’ve expressed it once as if it’s our good deed for the day. Loving God isn’t a good deed. It’s the way of life with God.
Unending love isn’t guilt-driven. When we consider debt, we can easily slip into a pressure to pay. We can get legalistic about we express love, going through the motions, like when we have a financial debt to pay. We feel obligated. We’d rather spend the money how we want, not how someone says we have to spend it. But we’re legally bound. We can respond in a similar way to our debt of love. We feel an obligation. It’s not that we don’t want to live out God’s love, but we don’t understand it. We don’t want to wrestle through it. We don’t want to love the people that are hardest to love. We don’t want to be vulnerable. We don’t want to be hurt. It’s easier to keep our love safe.
But it’s not about our love. It’s God’s.
Just like with financial debt, we can get into a pressured position. We just don’t have enough to give, then we fall behind. We avoid the responsibility or at least avoid the harassing, demanding phone calls. The same happens with love. We feel pressure, and we withdraw because we don’t know how to catch up or we don’t want to deal with pressure.
But it’s not about our own provision. It’s about God’s.
We’re vessels through which God loves others. We receive His love, and it overflows onto others. We feel empty sometimes because we’ve stopped relying on God for His love. He hasn’t stopped giving it to us. There’s nothing wrong with the source. It’s a receiving issue. When we feel empty, we can withdraw, or we can try to wring every drop possible out of our reserves. When we do, we get weaker and weaker. It’s not a long-term solution. And it doesn’t really work all that well in the short-term either.
God gives us what we need, but we have to use it. Remember the manna God provided the Israelites in the wilderness? They could only gather one day’s supply. It was just enough to provide what they needed. Anything left over disappeared from the ground or rotted in their homes. So that they didn’t have to work on the Sabbath, God provided enough for two days, and the two-day provision lasted two days without rotting.
God’s love is similar. He gives us what we need, but we have to use it. We can’t hold onto it longer than God intends for us to use it. We have to use it. God pays our debt of love. He provides every payment, large and small. We have to open our hands—our hearts—and receive it. Then we have to keep our hands—and hearts—open as we give it away.
Dear God, thank you for providing Your love for me to pay the debt. I promise to receive what You give me and trust You enough to boldly give it away as You give it to me.