The Debt Of Love – What Is It & How Do I Pay It?

A situation came up today and this Scripture came to mind.

“Owe no one anything, except the debt of love.” Romans 13:8

I am not sure what translation this is from because I learned it many years ago. It may have been someone’s own paraphrase.

So how can love be a debt? Does everyone owe it? And practically, how are we supposed to pay for it?

What is the debt of love?

I don’t know about you but I don’t like having debts. It tends to make me worry. What if I lose my job? How will I pay my bills? Will I also lose my house and car for inability to pay? How will I buy groceries and pay for medical care?

And now I find in the Bible in Romans 13:8 that I have another debt.

But how can I pay for it if I don’t really understand what it is?

Debt creates a lot of questions when we think about it.

Love is a person and He paid the first debt of love

We as human beings are in a huge debt crisis when we don’t know Jesus Christ personally.

We all are born with a sinful nature that completely separates us from God. This big chasm between us and God is like a debt and we can’t cross over without paying in full.

But by the grace of God, Jesus paid our debt through His death, burial, and resurrection. We can be debt free if we accept this beautiful gift and decide to follow Him.

Because God is love, he can only act in love. When Jesus died he said, “It is finished.” The Greek words were familiar to the people of the day because it was used by judges and bill collectors to stamp invoices as being “paid in full.”

We in turn owe this same debt of love

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

When we choose to follow Jesus, make His truth our truth, His ways our ways, and His lifestyle our lifestyle, we now have an obligation.

” … ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’  Jesus answered, ‘The most important is … you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31ESV

It isn’t a matter of whether we want to do this or not. It is whether we want to have our own sin debt paid.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not something we do to earn God’s forgiveness. Loving others is simply proof that we really are a part of the family of God.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” “so then faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 1:22 and 2:17 ESV

How do we pay the debt of love?

The debt of love is a way of life.

We will always owe it if we know Jesus personally. But it is not something that is a heavy burden. It never is a cause for worry when we live according to the teachings of Jesus.

Here is a tangible example.

Today we had a worker taking out a door and closing up the hole with a solid wall. He needed a hammer drill and we found that ours was not working right.

His suggestion was to go and buy one, use it for the day, then return it to the retailer for a refund. I hesitated and his response was, “It is like renting.”

I walked away for a bit to think about how to answer in a way that would not put him down because I am not His judge. God is.

But I also wanted him to understand where I was coming from.

This was my response.

“When I go to Rental World to rent something I need to pay for the use of the equipment. It may seem like that is what I would be doing going to Lowes or Home Depot to buy a hammer drill.

But in reality, when I return the drill, I get a full refund. This means I did not pay anything for the use of the equipment.

But worse yet is the fact that the retailer now can’t sell the hammer drill for full price. So I am actually hurting the retailer.

The Bible says that I should not owe anything to anyone except the debt of love. I don’t want to hurt the retailer, so I won’t borrow his hammer drill and expect to get a refund.”

Notice, I did not point fingers at the worker. If he does not know Jesus or is young in his faith, I don’t want to act judgemental but treat him with respect.

Instead, I shared my convictions about if I were in the worker’s shoes and why I personally would not “borrow” and “return” the drill.

Not only was this a chance for me to be a “doer of the word and not just a hearer,” but also to show the love of Jesus to the retailer and worker. This was my opportunity to pay my debt of love as well as be a teaching moment.

The debt of love is a blessing, not a curse

One of the best feelings in the world is knowing you have done what God wants you to do. And when we act in love, we receive rewards that we may not see immediately.

We can expect that others will begin to trust us more. The debt of love is looking out for their needs and not just your own.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

There are many other ways to pay the debt of love. We need to be open to God’s directions on how to treat others in all situations.

We learn this lifestyle by communicating with God often. He speaks to us mainly through the Bible, and we speak to Him through prayer. This communication begins with a relationship with Jesus.

If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can text, call, or chat with them online any time of the day or night.

You will never go wrong paying the debt of love

We can do many things for God, but they will never equal what is accomplished when we do it in love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV

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