Love Your Neighbor

by David and Stephen Olford

Text: "Love one anotherforlove is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:8-10).

Thought: The Apostle points out that all neighborly relationships should be based upon love. God says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (v9): and again: "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (v 10). So we have here two aspects of this divine love demonstrated in our neighborliness.

Love fulfills the normal commitments toward our neighbors.

"Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law" (v. 8). This injunction follows on from the beginning of verse 7 where Paul says to "render to all what is due." But the exhortation now widens to the subject of love, which seeks the best interest of others.

While Paul uses the creditor to illustrate his points, the precept is not limited to the matter of owing money. As Christians, we cannot know "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost" (Romans 5:5) without also experiencing a sense of obligation to fulfill all our normal commitments. The most important commitment of all, of course, is our debt of love to all men.

Preaching the grace of God is a hypocritical exercise when it is not backed up by practicing the love of God. Significantly enough, Paul finds some of the most convincing demonstrations of love to our neighbors is the little things of life, such as paying our debts, doing a full day's work, being on time, and reflecting the joy of our Savior in our speech and behavior, and so on.

Love fulfills the moral commandments toward our neighbors.

"Thou shalt not commit adulteryLove worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (vv 9-10). Paul quotes from the second part of the Decalogue because he has our neighbors in mind. He proceeds to point out that all moral commandments toward our neighbors are summed up in one statement: "love worketh no ill to his neighbor's life."

Therefore, in our neighborly relationships, this will mean that we shall not spoil our neighbor's marriage-"Thou shall not commit adultery"; we shall not take our neighbor's life-"Thou shalt not kill"; we shall not steal our neighbor's property-"Thou shalt not steal"; we shall not ruin our neighbor's reputation-"Thou shalt not bear false witness"; we shall not want our neighbor's prosperity-"Thou shalt not covet."

These are penetrating words indeed, for they bite into the very core of daily living. Love means nothing if it does not issue in fulfilling the law. In other words, love upholds the moral absolutes of the God with whom we have to do.

Thrust: "love thy neighbor as thyself."

David Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's
Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad