June 19, 2023 – Romans 13

There is a popular question that asks, “What does love require of me?” It is such a simple yet profound question, and within it, we find the main theme of Romans 13. While much debate can be made about which laws we as Christians are bound to obey, the larger question that Paul seeks to drive us toward is one of love. Verses 9 and 10 read, “…whatever other commands there may be, are summed up in this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

We live in a world where it’s easy to debate, share our opinions, and “poke holes” in Scripture for a variety of reasons. Yet Paul argues that this overarching question truly sums up not only the hundreds of laws in the Old Testament, but the 10 Commandments as well. Love doesn’t covet, or steal, or murder, or dishonor others. In other words, love desires what’s ultimately best for the other person.

Using this same logic, Paul encourages the believers in Rome to respect and adhere to the governing authorities of the day. Does this mean we should do whatever earthly leaders say? No, our first allegiance is to God, whose commands are higher and greater. However, a way that we love our neighbors is by doing what’s best for all of society, even if it’s inconvenient for ourselves. Love isn’t simply looking out for ourselves as individuals, it’s always asking – how can I love, respect, and honor those around me to the best of my ability?

So, what does love require of us? Not blindly following the viewpoints of every politician or going with the majority opinion. But it does require speaking words of life over our enemies, not returning hate for hate. It might require engaging in passionate, but respectful dialogue with our leaders about differences we might have with them. It might require offering grace and patience to those you disagree with instead of tearing them down on social media. In short, love is messy, and often what it requires is a selflessness that only comes through the power of Jesus Christ.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Why do you think the command to “love our neighbors” is a good summary of all the laws God has given us?
  2. Where might be a place or situation this week where you can demonstrate love, even when it’s hard? To an authority figure? Someone who disagrees with you? Someone very different than you? Challenge yourself to answer “What does love require of me?”