THE CONTINUOUS DEBT OF LOVE. (PART 2 OF 3)
Have you ever had someone do you a favor so great, or extend a kindness or generosity that was so overwhelming that you didn’t even know how to begin to pay it back? If you’ve never been in that position, let me tell you, the feeling is one of such great gratitude that even the acceptance of the decline of repayment is too much for one to fathom. Therefore, the concluding sentiment is usually one of “I’m forever in your debt”. And even though we’ve been explicitly told that we dont have to repay the favor, the spirit of gratitude within us continuously seeks out an opportunity to express itsef. In any way possible.
It’s usually something very great and significant that would cause us to feel such a huge level of indebtedness. Yet, for all that any human being can do for us, how many would go to prison for a crime that we committed? How many would receive a vicious flogging on their bare backs for an offense that we committed? How many would suffer a gruesome death; without protest; without complaint; without objection; that was meant for our sins.
1 Peter 2:23-25 (NIV)
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
So, the question that came to me was; knowing the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, where is that feeling of overwhelming indebtedness? Why is it not as pressing as it would be if a friend gave me money to save my home from being foreclosed on, for instance? Why is Christ’s sacrifice; though we are aware of it; though we belive it, though we attest to it; not as pressing?
So, now, we are aware. The question still remains, how can we possibly repay Him? How can we repay the Messiah; the Savior of the world? Surely we cannot die for Him. So, then, what can we do?
We can express our thanks by way of praise. Speaking, singing, dancing, and praying thanks unto His Holy name. And we do. But, is that enough? Is that all He requires of us?
Brethren, the truth is that there is very little we can do for Christ to repay Him for what He did for us. It’s also important to know that He has asked for no repayment for himself.
He does have a request for us, though, and the request is as simple as it is beneficial.
Romans 13:8 tells us:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
What does loving others have to do with Christ’s sacrifice for us? Is it not enough to be obedient? Is it not enough to share the good news of salvation with others so that they can understand the immense sacrifice that Christ made for us. Is it not enough to abstain from sin and tell others how they need to do the same? “Being like Christ” will surely show Jesus that we are in gratitude for His sacrifice.
The truth about that brethren is that when we try to “be like Christ” in actions, in preaching, in “not sinning”, we will fail. Woefully!
Our actions can never make us like Christ.
Our knowledge of the word and our ability to instruct it to others will never make us like Christ.
We believe obedience is the form of showing gratitude? You’re right. And here’s proof:
Jesus says in John 14:15:
“If you love me, keep my commands.
He also said in 1 John 5:3:
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
Therefore, obeying God’s commandments is, in fact, proving our love for Him. So we’re set! Are we not?
1 John 4:20-21 tells us:
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
So, God is saying that if we love Him, we will obey His commandments. He then goes further to tell us that we cannot say that we love Him, who we have never seen, and yet, not show love to our fellow man, who we see and interract with every day.
One can deduce then, that this requirement of love is very serious.
That Romans 13: 8 says to owe no one anything. Let no debt remain outstanding. With one exception.
The debt to love one another.
We feel this indebtedness toward Christ because we are so eternally grateful for what He did for us. Because our hearts truly desire to show that gratitude, we want to know what we can do.
Christ says we should love.
Love Him, with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Love continuously. Over, and over again. Our love can never be exhausted. Because God’s love is not exhausted. So, the gratitude never stops, and the debt is never fulfilled. Because as long as we live, there is a reason, and an opportunity to show love to our Christian brethren, to non-Christians, even to our enemies.
We repay God for His love; we repay Christ for His sacrifice, by loving others. It’s that simple.
I’d said earlier that the act of love was also beneficial.
Romans 13:8 tells us that love is the “fulfillment of the law”.
1 Peter 4:8 tells us “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Proverbs 10:12 says “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”
We fail when we try to “Be like Christ” or “Act like Christ”. Simply because we have sinful natures, and we will sin. In some way, shape, or form. Guaranteed!
But when we love, as God has instructed us to love, as Christ has demonstrated how to love, we atone for those sins that we are guaranteed to commit! That is why we are urged, over and over again in the bible to love! We are saved in love!
Therefore, we can succeed when we “Love like Christ”. That is what he requires of us. That is what he expects from us. Because, He knows that it is attainable. It is attainable if we live in Him, and allow Him to live in us.
So, what is the nature of this love that God expects from us. Why are we reminded of the importance of it in so many parts of scripture? How do we feel it? How do we practice it? Why are we not getting it?
Please join us next week for part 3 of this journey into the heart of our God.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
As always, share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.
The handmaid at His feet.