“Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” To love another is to fulfill the law. Sounds simple enough, but then, love is not so simple, is it. Love here is not to be understood in a romantic way. It is not a Valentine’s Day kind of love that the Apostle is talking about here. No, the only kind of love that can fulfill the law is the kind of love that Jesus modeled. It is a self-sacrificing, faithful commitment to all others, even when it is hard to love them.
The kind of love that fulfills the law of God is much more than the cultural examples of love that are so commonly presented to us. This love has no ego in it. There is no selfishness, or self-concern in it. When Christian love directs all of our moral decisions, the law of God enters into all of our familial relations, it charges us with a love for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, it honors, promotes and protects the security of personal property. At the political level, Christian love anticipates the purpose and effect of legislation and composes it with absolute concern for the common good, not for political gain of any kind.
As Paul goes on to say, the commandments argue the case for Christian love. A Christian who loves another, as Christ has loved him or her, would never commit adultery, or murder, or steal, or covet another’s goods. The love that Paul is talking about here can be summed up by this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (verses 9-10).
The time for us to “wake from our sleep” has been upon us since Christ walked among us. It is time for we who call ourselves Christians to live this love described above in every environment of our lives. “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (verse 11). Do we not believe that? What keeps us from loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is the challenge for us in this passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. We need to do daily, honest soul searching to see where there is any “darkness” in us, anything that does damage to our capacity for loving the other as Jesus loves us. We need to pray for forgiveness for those things that prevent our love, and for the graces to leave them behind us. Let us challenge, help, and counsel one another out of our love for one another, rather than always trying to make ourselves look better than the other. Let us stop all of this comparing of ourselves to others, and let us leave behind those kinds of competitiveness that seek only to win, to be number one, even at the cost of another. Rather, let us love one another in that way that fulfills the law of God.
Lord, help us to see those things in our lives that prevent us from loving one another as you have commanded us to do. Give us the courage to be heroic lovers in this world that so desperately needs to see Christian love in action. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen!
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