Romans 13:8–14. Lesson 25. Money, Love, and Time.
Key Notes: The interpersonal commandments. Day people. Love him / her? It's time.
It is doubtful that we will find a set of topics that are more provocative than these three. What Paul says about them is short; what we must do about them is enormous and challenging.
13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another. This word comes just after talk about paying various kinds of political obligations. It is not a command to be debt-free, but to honor the commandment to love one another above the other obligations—all of which must be duly met.
Paul reminds us that obeying the commandments illustrates what love is. Our reflex is that the Law is the way we avoid offending God. That is true as well. This is the application of the Law to the practical world.
He lists four (of five) Ten Commandments which deal with our relationship to neighbors.
You shall not commit adultery. (#7)
You shall not kill. (#6)
You shall not steal. (#8)
You shall not covet. (#10)
Commandments #6–10 teach us aspects of loving our neighbors. They are all negative (including the missing #9: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor); and Paul points out that they prevent us from doing harm to each other. In contrast, commandments #1–5 teach us how to love God. So the two tables of the Law teach us how to love God with all our being, and our neighbors as ourselves.
13:11 Paul shifts his attention to the era—the historical setting—he lives in. It is time to wake up. Salvation is closer that when we believed. The Day is dawning. We are not sure what he meant. "The Last Days" began at Pentecost. (Acts2:17). He may have believed that the return of Christ was immanent, but this seems doubtful. He may have visualized the explosive growth of the Gospel in the Empire. He may have had some revelation of the persecutions that were soon upon them. But his application is clear.
13:12 It is time to put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. The armor indicates that a battle is coming. The lives of the "night people" are characterized by
* reveling and drunkenness (alcohol and drug abuse)
* debauchery and licentiousness (sexual incontinence)
* quarreling and jealousy (the inevitable outcome of the first two sets)
Cab drivers know that the people who are on the streets after midnight are quite different from the people who are out during the day.
13:14 The "day people" are to cast these things off and put on Christ. They are not to keep a secret place for the indulgences of past years.
Owe no one anything but to love one another. Love is a debt of unlimited obligation. Fortunately for us, Paul emphasizes the negative aspect of love, not to do harm. Our priorities are elsewhere. Who is my neighbor? My life-partner, the one next to me in the house. The family next door. The stranger I see in need.
We have many reasons for not loving others.
“I am not getting my needs met.”
“I don’t have much love to give.” " I can't love anyone."
“I don’t want to embarrass him / her by giving more than I am getting.”
“Love is a dangerous thing. You can get hurt.”
“My partner / neighbor doesn’t want love, and is incapable of giving love.”
“I have no incentive to love this unlovable person..”
“The other person always wants love but gives nothing back.”
Jesus says, “Love each other; love your neighbor,” and we say we’d rather not.
He commands, and we refuse. We just can’t do that.
We must go back to Rom. 8:4 and 12:1–2. “I can’t” is not an acceptable answer.
Something about money ~
We owe too much. The national debt is twenty trillion dollars. That is about $100,000 owed by each soul in our Country. The Congress spends on in blithe disregard of the dangers involved. The personal household obligations of Americans average $84,000, much of that in home mortgages. Bankruptcies are a dismal reality.
We must learn to live within our incomes. We need to live on 80% of our net income, tithing 10% and saving an equal amount. And forget about gambling. I have a young friend whose father lost the house gambling, and she lost her opportunity for an education. “You can lose your house at a click of a mouse.”
Something about time ~
The correct way of speaking about Christ’s return is that it is immanent. “The Judge is standing at the doors.” (Jm. 5:9) “Surely I am coming soon.” (Rev. 22:20) He will come at a time considered unlikely. He will come like a thief in the night. (II Pet. 3:10). Christians are to live expectantly, and they have for two millennia. However, we know from the NT that certain conditions must be met before Christ’s return.
1.The Gospel must be preached throughout the whole world. Matt. 24:14
2. Israel must be back in the land. Matt. 24:15
3. The “Man of Sin” must be revealed. II Thes. 2:3
We are set in the position of servants who do not know when the Master will come back home and ask an accounting of our stewardship.
"Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes….” (Lk. 12:37)
Paul talks about people of the day and people of the night. But Paul’s first concern is for the times and what might happen to the Christians. He expands on the idea in I Thessalonians.
“When people say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober…since we belong to the day…let us put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thes. 5:3–9)
So we have several reasons for being ready and on the watch.
*We are by nature sober, alert and forward-looking. We are People of the Day.
*We have a Master who expects us to keep His Place ship-shape.
*We must be aware of the danger of attack and opportunities for service in the world.
The last two verses (13:13,14) were the salvation of Augustine, a young prelate who was struggling away from lust and desire and toward faith.
“...not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Unfortunately for us, our society makes provision for our flesh at every turn in the road—Crispy Cremes, lingerie ads, car ads, beer ads, endless drugs to sleep and forget…. Mercifully, God has also provided the antidote: Put on Christ. Wear His protection. Put on His shoes. See through His lenses. Listen with His ears. And speak with His voice.