Millions of people are in debt. It is not only a problem of the poor but also for the rich. Most people think of debt as something negative. Rightly so because it means that a person in debt is living in the “red.” It means that an indebted person is under obligation to repay whatever he owes. Even the Bible is filled with passages that talk about how to avoid debt and how to overcome it.
However, do you know there is a kind of debt that the Bible promotes? Do you know that this sort of debt is so great that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to fully pay it? Nevertheless, the Bible talks about this type of debt as something desirable, required, and necessary.
I am speaking about the debt of loving one another.
Romans 13:8 tells us:
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Owe no one anything
What does the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “Owe no one anything except to love one another?” What does it really mean to owe no one anything? And most importantly, why do we need to love one another as if it is something that we must consider as a debt?
Let us now examine this one single, but powerful verse.
The word owe is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “to be indebted; to be obliged or bound to pay.” The Greek word for “owe” is opheilo, and Strong’s Dictionary defines it as “to be under obligation.”
Basing from these definitions, Paul is telling us that we should not be under an obligation or in debt to another person. We should not owe anyone anything.
Some people use this verse to teach that it is wrong to borrow any amount of money. For them, to borrow something is considered to be a curse from God. They think that all forms of poverty are a punishment from the Creator.
Of course, this is not the case. For example, the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) shows us that lending money for interest is not entirely evil (Of course, there are also moral standards to be followed here). Lending money involves borrowing.
In the Old Testament, God made sure that the Israelites should not charge interest on loans given to a fellow Israelite. Jesus even said, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11).
So what does this mean? It means that we must do our best to pay off debts as early as possible. Psalms 37:21 tells us, “The wicked borrows and DOES NOT PAY.”
Admittedly, we don’t want to be considered as wicked, right? If it is within our power, we must pay all our debts and “owe no one anything.”
In line with this instruction, the Apostle Paul tells Christians to be diligent, productive, and industrious. Paul is instructing us that if we are to spend something, make sure that it is ours and not something we borrowed.
Paul is teaching us to be diligent in our work to prevent the necessity of obtaining debt.
Except to love one another
Now, here’s the main point of the Apostle Paul. He wants us to think about loving one another as something that we owe. He wants us to understand that loving another is NOT optional, but rather it is our obligation.
We will never come to the point that we love one another enough. Loving one another is a life-long process.
Loving others NEVER ends.
Loving one another is more than just what think, say or do. But rather, love should be the MOTIVATING power behind our every thought, word, and action.
We must be so engrossed and occupied in “paying” people with the currency of love to the point that love defines us – to the point that when people see us, they also see Jesus Christ.
As John 13:35 tells us, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Loving one another is a sign that we are Christ’s real followers. Again, love is not optional, but mandatory.
For he who loves another has fulfilled the law
Why is loving one another so important? Because loving one another help us to fulfill the law.
Keeping the law to the letter isn’t enough. Yes, it is easy not to commit murder. But Jesus magnified the law and included hating your neighbor is tantamount to murder.
If you love one another out of genuine concern, care, and affection, it helps us not just to keep the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.
Commandment-keeping is important, but if you only obey the law out of necessity, then your conversion is only superficial. You need to go deeper. You need to follow God’s law from the heart, You can only do that if you overflow with love.
So, what is the best debt that we all should have? It is to love one another.
We need to feel that we “owe” and indebted to love others. This is a debt that we must all strive to pay every day. Loving others is not a mere duty, but it is actually the framework that we must all operate in.
Everything that we do must be done out of love.
Every day, we are called to do small things with GREAT Love.
I hope you remember the words of the Apostle Paul and its meaning as we all strive to “owe no one anything except to love one another.”