Romans 13:7-8 – “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” NIV
Although it would be appropriate to address “debt”, especially in light of the massive mountain of debt that the Federal Government has burdened the American People with, in this very hour or address personal debt that’s not what I want to focus on in this devotional. Those are also matters of integrity but a subject for another time and place.
When we think of “debt” most of the time we think of the “bills” and “obligations” we have incurred in order to live or live in the style of life we have chosen. Yet, this passage speaks of other “debts” that are equally, if not, more important in the scope of our relationship with the Lord. Before, I address those let me say, “it is NEVER right to not take care of those obligations we committed ourselves to”, so I am not suggesting that in what I’m saying. My point in this is that there are some “debts” that run far deeper, and we sometimes fail to even realize what they are and their importance. The bills rolling in every month are ever-present reminders of our obligations but these debts of which I speak are not always so obvious.
Respect: The apostle Paul addresses this as a “debt” to be paid. Have you ever considered that “respect” could be a debt? I didn’t think so! I firmly believe that “respect” is earned and although we may disagree with our parents we still owe them “respect” if they spent their lives attempting (with success or not) to provide for us, teach us the right paths of life, and protect us from the evils of this world. However, it does not have to be just parents but how about: the military, police, teachers, preachers, or those who have devoted their lives to serving God and man. One way to address the payment of that debt would be to “remember” them at special times and on special occasions, but how about just out of the blue sending them a card, letter, phone call, or gift to express our appreciation for them not just what they do but them.
Honor: Wait, I have a debt of honor? If there is someone in your life that has played a significant role in helping to shape and mold you they are due “honor”. The Bible teaches us to “honor” or fathers and mothers and in so doing we will live long lives. Consider those whose unwavering integrity has impacted not only your life but untold numbers of others. Find a way to “honor” them to fulfill the debt of “honor”. Could I suggest that you “become” the person that they have demonstrated and in so doing HONOR THEM!
Then the apostle by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us that there is to be no outstanding debt except the ongoing debt “to love one another.” When you consider the debt that we have “to love” based on the LOVE OF GOD exhibited toward us in the sacrifice of Jesus, how could we, not seek to pay this debt regularly to whomever we are able. It may be painful to “love” because we may not like what the object of our love says or does on any particular occasion. They may be like fingernails on a chalkboard to us because they either do not understand why or what we have chosen for our lives and may even rightfully point out some flaws in our thoughts or actions. We like to be “affirmed” we do not normally like to be “challenged” or even “questioned.”
Love is a choice! It is not an emotion! That is not to say there will not be emotions attached to it but in and of itself it is not an emotion it is a conscious decision on our part. God chose to “love us” and because He first loved us we can “choose” to love others. We owe that debt not only to others but to God! Obeying that directive and choosing to love will not purchase our salvation but it will enhance our relationship with the Lord because it transforms our hearts.
I’ve had and even have people now who find it difficult to love me! In some of those cases, I know why and in others I am clueless but know it to be a reality. I may not like everything you do or even want to spend time with you but I can choose to LOVE YOU! Our personalities may clash and our views of what should or should not be done spiritually, naturally, economically, etc. may be diametrically opposed to each other but I am still able to LOVE YOU! If you remember in the Book of Acts the apostle Paul found himself in such a situation that his ministry team split up and went separate directions. Did that mean they didn’t love each other, NO! It meant that they recognized that they did not agree completely and the Bible is clear that “two” cannot walk together unless they are in “agreement”. It would only cause tension and be detrimental to those involved and those they are trying to reach. He didn’t criticize those departing and even recommended them in his travels but it took years for God to mellow both sides to the point that they could link up in a common effort. Don’t allow the devil to defeat you if you find yourself in that situation but also do not allow him to rob you of the benefit of LOVE!
May your Sunday be the best you’ve ever had and may the rich blessings of the Lord flow out of an open window in heaven upon you and all that you do on this day! I treasure you and the opportunity to share my heart with you daily!