Law of Love
With God’s glory and grace and mind, Paul invites us to lay our lives down before him as an act of worship in Romans 12. Then he begins to describe what that looks like. Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” This is almost like the chapter heading for the rest of the book. What does living out this genuine love, while holding fast to what is good, look like? Paul gives 3 ways in Romans 13.
Submit to Civil Authority (1-7)
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2 ESV)
This should be the normal mode of operation for Christians. We recognize that God has placed authority in our societies. For us to live in love with one another, we need to respect that authority. There have been times when God’s people have had to make difficult decisions about respecting human authority while obeying God and not man. We just want to remember this is the exception, not the rule. God’s people should seek to obey and support the governing authorities as much as possible.
Fulfill the Whole Law Through Love (8-10)
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10 ESV)
Paul is digging into what Jesus said in Matthew 22:39. After loving God, the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor. The interaction between love for our neighbor and God’s law is a beautiful one. Our our love informs our law abiding, and the law also informs our love for our neighbor. What would it look like to love someone? Well, I can learn that through how God has commanded me to treat people. What is the guiding principle and motivation of God’s commands on how to treat people? Love them!
Look Forward to Jesus Return (11-14)
Paul closes the chapter by looking forward to Jesus’ return. Salvation is near! If this is true, let’s be found “holding fast to what is good” and loving our brothers and sisters.
God has poured out his love toward us through Jesus. Our response to his love is to love him and love the people he has placed in our lives. Let’s look to him who has loved us so much and allow his love to move us towards love for others.
Grace & Peace.