ROMANS:THE ROAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS
Staying True Since Time is Short
Jerry A Collins
What is the debt we owe to everyone?
How does time effect this debt we owe?
Why should we make no provision for our flesh?
In readers digest was story of a person who was attending a junior stock show when a grand champion lamb, owned by a little girl was being auctioned. As bids reached five dollars per pound, this little girl, standing beside the lamb in the arena, began to cry. At $10 the tears were streaming down her face and she clasped her arms tightly around the lambs neck. The higher the bids rose, the more she cried. Eventually, a local businessman bought the lamb for more than $1000 but then announced he was donating it back to the little girl. The crowd applauded and cheered. Months later, this same person was judging some statewide essays when he came across one from a girl who told about the time her grand-champion lamb had been auctioned. ‘The prices began to get so high during the bidding,” she wrote, “that I started to cry from happiness.” She continued with, “The man who bought the lamb for so much more than I ever dreamed I would get returned the lamb to me, and when I got home, daddy barbecued the lamb—and it was really delicious.” What was mistaken for genuine love was really not love at all. As believers our love must always be genuine and never for appearances sake. 5 times in 3 short verses ‘love’ is mentioned and it is God’s kind of love. The highest kind of love there is that we must apply to our lives. It is the choice to serve the greatest good of another person. In relationship to the government, we must now fulfill our obligation to submit to it’s authority. In relationship to our neighbor we must fulfill our obligation to love. This is our main obligation toward everyone we learn. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.
1. LOVE IS AN UNPAID DEBT In other words, we can never say I have loved so much that I cannot love anymore. There is never a limit to our ability to love. Now that we have recognized our sinfulness, now that we have been justified, now that we are being sanctified, we have the power now to do this. We do have a debt that continues forever. It is our obligation to seek and to serve the greater good and welfare of everyone. Imagine how radical this would be for you and me? No jealousies. No envy. No revenge. No bitterness. No gossip. We should never fall short and so be ‘in debt’ in loving others.
2. LOVE GOES BEYOND THE LAW
The law says you cannot injure your neighbor and it says so in a variety of ways. But love says do good to your neighbor. It goes a step farther. It is impossible to love and injure your neighbor at the same time. That is why he says love will not sleep with your neighbors wife or husband—love will not commit adultery. Love will not murder your neighbor, harm him in any way. Love will not steal from your neighbor—it returns the money borrowed when agreed upon. Love does not jealously peer into your neighbor’s garage or enviously desire the promotion your colleague received—love does not covet. This fulfills the law and there is no need to worry about keeping the 10 commandments. Just act in love. Focus on that. Choose to do this and you are fulfilling the law. Love is fulfilling the law. Law and love need each other. Love needs law for its direction. And law needs love for its inspiration. The reason love fulfills the law is because it serves the highest good of the other person. So do that he says. You owe that to everyone. Noone is off limits here. Love never harms another person. This is our constant responsibility. We must never, ever, set this aside as if we had an option in our human relationships.
Now, there is something about the age we live in—if we just understand this—it will compel us, it will motivate us, it will drive us to love our neighbor. It is our relationship to this age, this time or day, referred to in vs 11
3. LOVE WHILE YOU CAN We live in the new age inaguarated when Jesus came but is not yet completely fulfilled. We are living in between times. Between His first coming and His second coming. Between the announcing of His kingdom and the its establishment. We live then with this tension. All believers experience this tension and once we understand this it greatly effects our behavior during this time. But how?
(1) It’s a time to get going 11. This refers to all of the duties urged not just in previous verses but from chp 12 also. It is time for spiritual vigilance. Wake up from your slumber. Arouse yourself—wipe your eyes—brush your teeth—get going. Love! Now! The reason for this alertness is because each passing day in the faith brings our complete salvation and deliverance closer than ever. Everyday we must be ready to meet the Lord and give an account. There will come a time when loving our neighbor will no longer be possible. See opportunities to love and begin with those closest to you and work out from there. We do not have a lot of time to do this. It has to be now. Even 70 years is too short of a time and we are not even guaranteed that!
(2) It is time to give up some things 12-13. The night is almost gone he says. The night represents our earthly life plagued by spiritual darkness and danger. This life will eventually end—indeed he says we must live it as if it is nearly gone. The reason is because the day is near. When Jesus returns a new day will dawn. We live in between times. We live in this tension between walking in a darkened world where we can be persuaded and overcome by its darkness and walking in a new day in which we will walk and live in sinless light. But we do not just cave into the darkness around us anticipating the new day of deliverance. No! Instead, we prepare ourselves for that day by doing two things. First, by laying aside the deeds of darkness or deeds consistent with the darkness and second, we put on the armor of light—deeds that reflect the new day we anticipate coming. Armor because we are still at war with sin and forces of evil. Some things are incompatible with love. You do not indulge in these things. These things are characterized as deeds of darkness. Our behavior then should be distinctly xian. We must give up some things and he gives 3 categories of these for us to follow.
First, we must give up self indulgent living—not carousing and drunkenness. You are wasting your life when you spend it on yourself. The worlds message is indulge!
Second, we must give up living immorally. Don’t live for sex. This is a power that the world exploits by dress—appearance—physical shape, and eating habits. We are urged to have affairs, liaisons but all of these hurt people.
Third, we must give up jealousy and strife. Love can never be bred in this kind of spirit. You must throw it out of your life and never take it up again—all of your days. There will always be somebody who has more of something than you do.
(3) It’s time to put something on 14. We all put clothes on today. So when we put on Jesus we are putting on the power to operate and change events and effect people’s lives. In one sense we put Christ on at salvation. In another sense we put Him on when we dedicate our whole lives to Him as our Lord chp 12. So while we put aside sin we also put on holiness.
(1) Do not minimize the radical nature of changed relationships. It is not just a little here and there but from self to others completely. It changes our perspectives, our priorities, our paradigms.
(2) It must be lived out in your life in very tangible ways. Literally, love with skin on it. It only considers what the greater good of your wife, your husband, your parents, your child, your enemy, your friend, your neighbor and then acts on that.