old adage says, “If your output exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your
the leading cause of health problems. And stress about making, managing, using
and abusing money abounds. Money problems are frequently cited as the major
factor in the epidemic of divorce. Consumerism has left many broken homes and
shattered dreams in its wake.
to the Federal Reserve, Americans currently owe over $2.1 trillion. There are
a variety of products and services available to help one get out of debt. Debit
consolidation loans, second mortgages, not-for-profit consumer credit services
and even bankruptcy are some of the more popular solutions.
Apostle Paul is not normally considered a money management guru – but he does
offer sage advice: “Let no debt remain outstanding.” (Rom. 13: 8 NIV)
If we could simply learn to live within our means, life would be much simpler.
the focus of Paul’s instruction is not as much on paying bills as on the one
debt that is never satisfied. We all owe the debt of love.
are loved is the heartbeat of the Gospel. God does not love us because we
are good enough, deserve or can earn his love. His love is not a response to
something loveable in the human heart. Nor is his love a Divine inducement for
us to love and serve him in return. God is not a lonely Almighty in need of
human attention to be fulfilled.
there can only be one explanation for his great love for us – God is love.
God’s nature is revealed in love. Within the Godhead the Father loves the Son,
the Son loves the Father, the Son loves the Spirit and the Spirit loves the
Son, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Father loves the Spirit. There
is a complete and harmonious love relationship within the Trinity.
God declares and demonstrates his love for us “while we were yet sinners” –
before there was any human guarantee that we would acknowledge or respond to
his love – “Christ died for us.” And the extent of that love is that the One
who knew no sin became sin in our place!
are to love others is the only appropriate response to God’s love. The challenge
is illustrated in the ditty, “to dwell above with those we love, that will be
such glory but to live below with those we know, now that’s another story.”
Yet it is in the nitty gritty of living with “those we know” that love is to
be fully expressed. Love is not a philosophical abstraction. Nor can it be lived
in isolation for others.
saw the fulfillment of righteous living as summarized by love for God and love
for neighbor. Paul, drawing upon that insight, says that the law is fulfilled
in neighbor love. Indeed, our claim to love God is most clearly validated by
love for us is the standard for neighbor love. Jesus gave his disciples
a “new” commandment, “love one another as I have loved you.” (Jh. 13: 34-35)
The new in that command is the standard of measure – the unconditional
and total love of God for us sinners expressed through the death, burial and
resurrection of .Jesus. (Although the disciples may have originally understood
it in more concrete terms of washing one another’s feet.)
Jesus did not say, “As you love one another so I will love you.” We would all
be sunk. But his love for us (dying while we were yet sinners) is the standard.
When we hold a grudge, remember a past hurt, lay blame or seek revenge we are
not loving in the way we have been loved. When we obfuscate, fail to lovingly
confront or hide the truth from one another we are not loving as Christ loved
is a verb – love is something we do. Love is not primarily a warm
and fuzzy feeling or some other emotion. Love is not simply good intentions.
Contrary to Hollywood lore and romance novels, love does not simply come upon
us without rhyme or reason (or depart just as quickly).
is, according to 1 Corinthians 13, the mark and measure of authentic spirituality.
And love is expressed in concrete terms like patience, kindness, gentleness,
humility and self-control.
the early church father and apologist, observed, “See how the Christians love
one another.” If our love for one another in the body of Christ and the broader
neighbor love that Christ demands are indeed the mark of our discipleship, does
the world see in us any reason to believe?
brief provided by: Dr. L. Joseph Rosas III, Pastor, Crievewood
Baptist Church, Nashville, TN