“Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8, New English Translation).
In conversation, when the story is rather complicated or involved, the person relating the event will often say, “To make a long story short.” In other words, they are going to give us the abbreviated version. Romans 13:8 is the “short version” of the Ten Commandments. The law can be summed up in one sentence . . . actually, in just one word: love.
Loving My Neighbor
Verses 9 and 10 go on to explain” “For the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,’ (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (NET). When reading these verses, we understand that our neighbor is everyone, not just those who live nearby or those of our own social class or ethnicity.
Can we obey the law without loving? Yes, we can, but it’s just a perfunctory following of rules. We aren’t investing ourselves in the lives of others. When we are motivated by love, it is done without reserve, freely from the heart. Love comes from the inside and shows in our outward actions. It is an expression of God’s love flowing through us to those around us. Because the pure love of the Spirit controls our lives, we love others intensely and do them no wrong.
The Love Test
Yes, the world would be a better place if everyone followed the Ten Commandments, but the world would be even better if all our actions and words were motivated by pure love. Stop a moment to take the Love Test to see how you measure up. You can find it in I Corinthians 13.
Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.
It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.
It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(I Corinthians 13:4-7, NET)
Prayer: Lord, help me to live my life as a channel of Your love to others. I don’t want to just be a rule follower; I want to respond to others with love—the self-sacrificing love You demonstrated to us as our Savior. Let all my actions and words build up others and do them no harm.