Today’s Reading: Jer 51:1–64, Rom 13:8–14:12, Prov 28:1–28
Today’s Theme: Fulfilling Love
Today we learn about the essence of the law, which is love, and that by loving others we actually fulfil the law by default. So the call is for us to live lives governed by the love of and for God.
God plans and then does what He wills
“Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon; make the watch strong; set up watchmen; prepare the ambushes; for the Lord has both planned and done what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.(Jeremiah 51:12, ESV)
The Lord brings His Sovereign will to pass, He both speaks it and does it.
Fulfil the law through love
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.(Romans 13:8, ESV)
One thing we owe each other is to love each other. The word ‘owe’ means we have a debt, obligation and duty, but it should be a delightful duty and a light burden.
We fulfil the law by truly loving others because the spirit of the law is all about love, for both God and our fellow man. This is why Jesus said the summary of the law was to love God with everything and to love others in the same way we love ourselves.
Paul and others elaborate on this later in the NT, by stating that no one in their right mind hates his own body but nourishes and cherishes it. So husbands should love their wives like their own body and the principle follows for all human relationships.
Consider the laws like ‘don’t steal’, it is not loving to take by force that which does not belong to us and would not like to suffer that injustice ourselves. ‘Don’t commit adultery’, it flies in the face of the commitment and devotion demanded by love and we would hate if someone was unfaithful to us. We can look at each of God’s good laws in this way and see that love is at the root.
So fulfil the law today by following the example of Jesus, by loving others.
Love does no intentional wrong to others.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.(Romans 13:10, ESV)
A great explanation of why love is the fulfilment of the moral law. Love will not do what is wrong to a fellow human being and so by default it fulfils the law.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.(Romans 13:11, ESV)
This is pointing to the second coming and Paul wrote this 2000 years ago, so how much closer are we now, 2000 years later? We cannot afford to be asleep, we need to be alert, aware and awake.
Also for each individual Christian, even if Christ does not return in our lifetime, every day we come closer to our death and it is through death and resurrection that our salvation is fully realised, because it is those who enter in that are saved.
Put on the Lord Jesus
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.(Romans 13:14, ESV)
We should not make opportunities for the flesh because when we do, the flesh will seek to gratify its lust. Instead, in a deliberate and conscious way, we need to put on Jesus, adopting His way of living and behaving. This is our call to sanctification.
I want to emphasise the point that this is like putting on clothes, which means it is not natural, it takes a conscious effort and decision for each believer as an individual to deliberately put on Jesus, like a jacket, to protect us from the cold harsh winds of sin.
Don’t quarrel over opinions
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.(Romans 14:1, ESV)
We must not waste our time quarrelling about opinions. Man’s opinions have caused all kinds of division and confusion, so when someone is weak, we should not entertain the desire of their flesh or ours, to prove point over point. Instead we should show love.
There are many things that we can have different opinions about and still be one in Christ, we do not need to force each other to think or behave in our way, because many of our preferences are dictated by our background, culture and presuppositions.
However there are areas we can never compromise on and another opinion just will not do, these are core to the Christian faith, like the deity of Christ etc.
You are not God
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.(Romans 14:4, ESV)
The reason we judge each other in the body, on non essentials (like style of worship etc), is that we have a god complex where we feel the need to control everything. We need to trust that God is in control and if a fellow believer does things in a different way to us, we need to realise that God is their Master and will uphold them and make them stand.
If you are frustrated that others don’t do things in the way you do, just let it go, you are not a god, you are a member of a diverse body with people from various times, nations, tribes and languages, all with their own style, preferences, cultures and nuances.
We trust God as the Master over us all, who will uphold each of us and make us stand so that we can stand before Him on that day.
Be fully convinced
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.(Romans 14:5, ESV)
We must not sin against our own conscience, we must be fully convinced and live lives of conviction, by following those convictions. The convictions we follow must be our own, not those imposed by someone else, or we will just end up in the bondage of religion again.
A day of reckoning
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.(Romans 14:12, ESV)
A day of reckoning is coming for Christians, so live with this in mind.
Pray for our leaders
When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.(Proverbs 28:2, ESV)
We pray our leaders will be men of understanding and experience.
Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.(Proverbs 28:8, ESV)
Our lives should be driven by generosity, not selfish gain and profit.
Work with what you have
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.(Proverbs 28:19, ESV)
Lord, help us to work hard with what we have.
Don’t be stingy
A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.(Proverbs 28:22, ESV)
Don’t be stingy, it is to your profit to be generous.
Trust the Lord
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.(Proverbs 28:26, ESV)
Our minds are so fragile and finite, we cannot rely on them. We must trust in the Lord by His Holy Spirit.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on Romans 13