Let No Debt Remain Outstanding Except the Continuing Debt to Love One Another

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2 CHRONICLES 26:1-28:27 | ROMANS 13:1-14 | PSALM 23:1-6 | PROVERBS 20:11

Uzziah is the next king in line in the house of David, and is king of Judah.  He is certainly better than his father, Azariah, and is said to have a long and productive reign that lasts fifty-two years.  But his undoing, in the end, is significantly different and due to different reasons than that of his ancestors. 

Unlike his ancestors whose cardinal sin was turning to other gods and promoting idolatry in the land, Uzziah’s sin was that of pride.  So great did he believe himself to have become that he took it upon himself to go into the Temple and conduct the affairs of the Temple that were traditionally the exclusive duties of the priests.  Even when confronted by the priests themselves, Uzziah did not think it necessary to stop.  This leads to a sad end for Uzziah.  He is struck with leprosy for his pride and impudence, and spends the rest of his life in isolation because of the stigma and fear associated with his affliction.

The next king in line is Jotham, Uzziah’s son, and after a long time we find a king without glaring offenses. 

This is what the text tells us:  6 Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God. And after his sixteen-year rule, Jotham is succeeded by his son, Ahaz. 

But Ahaz was nothing like his father or even grandfather.  Ahaz was another terrible king. 

This is what the text tells us:  Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD. 2 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and also made idols for worshiping the Baals. 3 He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree. And such were his ways, and in this manner, he ruled Judah for sixteen years.  Ahaz was succeeded by his son, Hezekiah.

Turning now to our reading in the book of Romans, we find Paul offering some very practical advice.  He says this:  7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. 

And next, we see Paul making one of the most defining statements of the entire chapter, nay, in this letter itself.  It is nothing but a paraphrasing of Jesus’ own proclamation of one of the two most important commandments.  Paul says this:  8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Paul wants to make sure you understand these simple truths, and wishes to leave no ambiguity in his words.  His one further exhortation is to be mindful of the short time that we have on this earth, and he urges us to use the time well. 

Paul says, 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Our psalm for the day is the beloved Psalm 23, one that is quite likely the very first one that I had committed to memory at the age of five, thanks to my mother.  I reproduce it in its entirety in the King James version:

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

 4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, poses a question that implies the inherent sinful nature present even in the most innocent of young children.  A close viewing will eventually reveal that all the baser behaviors of an adult are already present in a young one, only in miniature form.  That is just how it is:

11 Even small children are known by their actions,

   so is their conduct really pure and upright?

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

3 thoughts on “Let No Debt Remain Outstanding Except the Continuing Debt to Love One Another

  1. In so much of Paul’s writing, as he applies Jesus’ teaching and purpose to the situation of the believers and the criticism of their opponents, he uses language not found in the gospels. It’s a necessity for the times in which he is living and preaching. But here, as you point out, he uses words that Jesus himself used as he wraps up everything that he has written so far in this letter.

    1. A very good observation, thank you for sharing!

      This is truly such a significant letter and these lines in particular – about loving your neighbor as your own and about love being the only relevant debt to have – must have impressed upon the reader the essence of this new Christian faith.

      Regards, Simmi D. Isaac (Sent from my iPhone)

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