Our Debt is to Love One Another

Romans 13.8

Part of our responsibility as citizens of the United States is to pay income taxes. Tomorrow is Tax Day in our country, the day on which all taxpayers must file their tax returns. If there is any tax money that is due, that amount must be paid by Tax Day in order to avoid a penalty. This is a requirement of the laws of our country, but it is a principle that was first mentioned in Scripture. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote that, if we owe taxes, we must pay taxes. We must give everyone what we owe them. We must pay revenue to whom it is due, respect and honor to whom it is due (Romans 13:7).

After pointing out that, as believers, we must fulfill our obligations to others, Paul says we should owe no one anything. And then he describes the one debt that must be paid on a daily basis because it is due on a daily basis. That debt is love (Romans 13:8). Origen, a third-century Bible scholar, and early church father, once said, “The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay every day and forever owe.” At the end of Romans 13:8, Paul gives us a good reason for wanting to continually pay this debt. When we truly love one another, we keep all of God’s commandments.

Paul tells us that the commandments that say we must not commit adultery, must not murder, steal, or covet, are all summed up in what Jesus told us is the second greatest commandment after loving God: we must love our neighbor as ourselves (Romans 13:9; Matthew 22:39). Paul goes on to say that love does no wrong to a neighbor, so love is the fulfillment of God’s law (Romans 13:10). If we truly love one another, we show respect and restraint. We do not seek to destroy but to build up, and we will take more pleasure in giving than receiving.

Jesus commanded that we love one another just as He loves us. We have a debt to love one another, not just friends, family, and fellow believers, but even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We may not be happy to pay taxes but, when we consider the love that God showed us by giving His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins (John 3:16), we should not just be happy, but overjoyed to pay the debt of love to others.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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