Deep Dive: The Law of Love
The Law of Love
It’s very interesting that Romans 13:8 begins by touching on the ethic of debt.
Historically, this has been an ethic in which Christians have disagreed greatly. In Medieval Europe, Jews came to dominate the banking industry because the usury laws of the Catholic Church prohibited Christians from lending money at interest. We now know that this legalism helped to inspire hatred against Jewish people because they weren’t bound by the same legalistic requirements as the medieval church.
Austin also spoke about how we are to pay our debts in the previous sermon. Personally, I think the way that we think about debt in our modern Western economy has become a huge problem.
We now have $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans in addition to the $1trillion plus in mortgage debt, car debt, and credit card debt. I once had a family member who was a loan shark at a local bar. I asked him about his business, and his justification was that if he didn’t lend the money to the drunks then somebody else would.
To take on a debt that you can’t afford is not loving, but neither is it loving or ethical to write a loan that you know will be a hardship to repay.
- How do you apply the principles of Romans 13:8-14 to debt in modern America?
The theme of this passage is the law of love. You call Christian ethics the law of love because they stream from the basic commands to love God and love your neighbor.
- How is the law of love fundamentally different from legalism (laws of the letter)?
- How much do we as Christians need to have it spelled out exactly what is allowed and what is not allowed?
Paul then begins to name the ten commandments that specifically deal with the ways that we relate to our neighbors. Clearly, these four commandments have implications that stretch deeply into the working of our everyday lives (lust, hatred, greed, etc.) and are not the only rules we need to follow.
- What is the value of the ten commandments for a Christian?
I often hear people who don’t know God proudly say that they love everybody. When you probe that statement a little further, though, you find out that they actually mean that they love everybody who looks like them, who thinks like them, who does good things for them, and who doesn’t get in their way. The message of Romans 13 seems to be that in the light of Christ, our love should look radically different from the type of love that the world lives by.
- What do you think are the characteristics of Christian love that are the same as the world’s love?
- What do you think is characteristic of a Christian’s love that is radically different than the world’s?
The passage lists some areas in which darkness pervades actions: orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling, and jealousy.
- What is the common thread here?
- Why is quarreling listed as a deed of darkness when it’s usually pretty obvious who you are quarreling with?
- What is a Christian sexual ethic and how is that different from a legalistic sexual ethic?
- What are some practical steps we can take to “give no provision to the flesh to gratify its desires?”