I Owe I Owe
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 Ro 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
 9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is  any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Ro 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

I owe, I owe, so it’s off to work I go! Few verses in all of scripture are filled with better advice than this one. “Owe no one anything.” Now the first thing I think about when I see the word owe is money.

I think of credit cards and second and third mortgages and I think about the financial mess that most professing Christians find themselves in these days. Again, what is it about “owe no one anything” that we don’t understand? Pretty straightforward command wouldn’t you say?

Yet,  I want to be careful here. This doesn’t mean that a Christian can never borrow or lend money. Jesus said in  Mt 5:42 "Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
 It’s okay to lend and borrow, but our lending and borrowing must be dictated by good stewardship. It’s good stewardship to borrow to purchase a home. The home usually gains in value and is a good investment, better than just paying rent and having nothing to show for it.

It is sometimes necessary to finance a car because in this day and age we have a need for reliable transportation.  A couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to good stewardship First of all..... the tithe. Listen to the one who is the Chief Banker of the world. The One who owns everything and what He says about giving the first 10% of what in reality is what He has given to you, to His church.

 Mal 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
 11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts;
 12 "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts.

I mean, does that sound like wise investing or what? Windows of heaven opening, not enough room to receive it, the devourer of your goods and labor rebuked! That’s good stewardship! It always amazes me how quick we are to listen to E.F. Hutton and so slow to listen to the source of all wealth.  
The second very important thing to remember about stewardship as it relates to debt is found in  Jas 4:13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";
 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."

The lesson is simple, don’t over-extend yourself financially because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I think this is huge as it relates to the debt situation of individuals in our society today. No one starts out with the idea of maxing out a credit card, but what always happens? How have our minds been trained to work?

Well, I can buy this piece of furniture now and I’ll just pay it off at the end of the month. And you would’ve done just that if your brakes wouldn’t have gone out on the car, or the washing machine wouldn’t have quit. And suddenly you are paying horrific interest rates because you couldn’t pay off that furniture, then you’re only able to make minimum payments, then your maxed out and sometimes even bankruptcy follows. “It was just a piece of furniture!

Or you put a pencil to your finances and decide you can buy that new car. You’ll have just enough to make the payments.....then you get laid off, or your commissions are cut....well you know how quickly that can get you swimming in debt. Good stewardship requires taking the unforseen into account when using credit.

As you probably have guessed by now, I speak from experience in these things. And I just want to encourage all of you, that wherever you are in this matter of debt, just starting out or considering bankruptcy..........learn from it.  Get a plan in place that includes tithing and expecting the unexpected, and commit to it!.

It will go a long way in helping you pay your financial debts when they are due. A long way in satisfying this straightforward command from our Lord. “Owe no one anything”. And while it is possible for you to get out of financial debt, there is one debt that you will never be able to retire this side of heaven.....the debt of love.

Every morning when you wake up, as a Christian, you have a great big debt of love staring you in the face! You will never be able to pay it off. The good news is, that God is love, and He will supply your daily need for that debt.  He’ll give you all you need to meet your love obligations.

Do you see how important it is to take time at the beginning of your day and connect your pipeline to God. We need to get that love flowing! You will likely be put in some difficult situations during the course of the day when it will be difficult to love.
You need God’s grace and love for those moments. The Christian begins his day by singing, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to love I go!”

A debt is a responsibility, and that’s the way we must look at this in order to keep God’s love toward us “unconditional.” God loves us no matter what and He proved it on a hill outside Jerusalem some 2000 years ago.  Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

You were His enemy at the time, a filthy sinner, but that didn’t stop Him from loving you.
 Ro 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

As a recipient of that love, by that I mean someone who didn’t push His love away but gladly received it, you are compelled, you absolutely cannot help yourself. If you truly know Him, you will love Him!  1Jo 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us. And your love for Him is demonstrated in your love of all others who have been made in His image.

So, we are compelled to love Him, and we cannot help ourselves when it comes to loving others either.  

1 Jn 4:20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

God has put His face on the face of all humanity, and if you can’t love them, then your claim to love God because of what He first did for you on Calvary while you were yet a sinner is a lie. You have either never embraced His love, or you have allowed sin or  unforgiveness, or pride, or a heart that has grown cold toward God  to cause you to turn off the pipeline.

 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Can it be any plainer than that? This is not a suggestion, this is a commandment. It is forever connected with the first commandment,  De 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

And all the other commandments are summed up in this one statement. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In a sense, you don’t even need the first commandment, because love of neighbor is inseparable from it.

 9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is  any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Love is defined here for us as  “not doing harm to our neighbor.” But dare we limit it to that? All right, then I’ll just ignore him, at least I won’t be doing harm to him. That’s kind of where we’re at in our country now.

Most of us don’t even know our neighbors! And if neutrality toward our neighbor is our attitude, well, congratulations! We have just joined the priest and scribe parade as they walked by the injured man in the ditch!

Eugene Peterson in “The Message” paraphrases Paul’s definition of love in his letter to the Corinthians.

Love never gives up
Love cares more for others than self
Love doesn’t strut
Doesn’t have a swelled head
Doesn’t force itself on others
Isn’t always “me first”
Doesn’t fly off the handle
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others
Doesn’t revel when others grovel
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
Puts up with anything
Trusts God always
Always look for the best
Never looks back
But keeps going to the end.

Far too often, we Christians strain the gnats with our teeth, looking for things to obey in God’s Word that make us look good on the outside, but we forget this most important aspect of following Christ.  This list from Paul is the real barometer of our Christian maturity.

Do you see how hopeless and helpless we are? Who could possibly do these things? Only God, and that’s why we need to be tapped into His pipeline. We need to have Him living in us and through, so some of His love spills over into these kinds of actions and attitudes with our neighbors.

God so loved you, even while you were yet a sinner, that He gave. What did He give? Did He give up? No, love doesn’t give up! He gave His only Son to die for you so you would not perish but have everlasting life.
This love is freely given by God to all who will receive it. And when duly received, it will produce a desire to love Him and all that He has created. Our debt, our responsibility is to not just say we love God or to just say we love our neighbor, we are too prove it with our actions.

 1Jo 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

This is God’s message to us this morning. “Grow in your maturity. Owe no one anything except to love one another” Amen.