On more than one occasion we find the Apostle Paul baring his soul to the churches and individuals he writes to (2 Corinthians 11:28). And having been known by Christ, it was Paul’s earnest desire to see every community of Christ followers walk in the way of Christ and his love.
For St. Paul, love was the chief Christian ethic. Love is what binds together all the other virtues like glue (Colossians 3:14). Without love, our spiritual gifts, our knowledge, and all our sacrifices prove to be empty, prove to be nothing. And in the Christian triad of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest of these (1 Corinthians 13:13).
So when we come to a text like Romans 13:8-10, we should not be surprised at the weight given to love in our Christian gatherings. Paul wants us more than everything else to walk in the way of love: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (v. 8). We should let this one sink in, rather than gloss over it.
Paul goes on to quote from the Ten Commandments and then adds this, “And whatever other command there may be, [they] are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Why Paul, because “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” We will not harm one another by committing adultery, by stealing, by coveting, and so on.
Imagine what our nation, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, communities, and our families would look like, if we, as Christians, were taking the lead to model this love St. Paul is describing here!