“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8, KJV 1900)
When I was in High School, I remember a huge event at our house. My dad said he was burning the mortgage. I had never heard the expression, but it meant that the loan he took out on the house was paid off. Years later when Chris and I purchased our first house, I began to understand what an epic milestone paying off a mortgage was. I looked forward to the day when we could be debt free.
Monetary debt is not something that I believe we should amass. The Scripture indicates the reason. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7, ESV) The writer of Proverbs indicates that debt binds and encumbers the borrower. However, it sometimes becomes unavoidable. Paul writes that we should “owe no man anything.” In other words, we should try to stay out of debt and if we incur debt, we should try to get out of it as quickly as possible.
Yet, Paul uses this principle of fiscal debt to point to another type of indebtedness that we should view as never paid off. It is a debt to “love one another.” We are to continuously work to demonstrate love to one another as if it were a debt that we owed and could never pay off. Paul states that in our continuous working to pay this debt, we will be fulfilling the command, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
One might ask, “How do we work to show this love?” In addition to the practical advice that Paul presents in this letter, John give this principle to consider. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16, KJV 1900) He tells us to follow the example of Christ. Think about what this means to all of us as we present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).