“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 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.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”—Romans 13:8-10 (NKJV)
“Make it a rule… never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say, ‘I have made one human being at least a little wiser, a little happier or a little better this day.'”—Charles Kingsley
So, a few weeks ago, I had a logo created for a t-shirt line. A few ideas have crossed my mind, including one that just happened tonight. A girlfriend of mine, who became my girlfriend because she married a male friend of mine, posted this on her FB status:
HER: I am an athiest. I have yet to declare this because of fear of rejection and hatred. I no longer worry about such things. Thank you Dan Barker for making me feel that it is ok to speak the truth. 🙂
ME: Was it a secret? Who knew? (that it was a secret-LOL)
HER: Haha Shellie strangely enough I was more comfortable telling you the super religious lady than the world!
ME: (LOL) I’m not “super religious”. I just like the Godhead a lot. The super religious people are the reason why a lot of athiests don’t want to post what you just did. Actually, I found what you said (to me) to be a great compliment. Honey, I love you. Enjoy the journey (still need to get you that song…I know)
HER: Just say yay to Shellie and Bridget! Love you both for your honesty and lack of “hatred”.
Then I thought about a very similar conversation that I had with an agnostic friend not too many days before: how she couldn’t believe how comfortable she was with me because I was one of the most “super spiritual” people that she knew.
Now, we all know that perception, for a lot of people, is reality and there are some actual “super religious” people that would argue them to the floor about me being such a thing (LOL). To that I say, “I don’t consider myself to be that, either” and praise Adonai. The Godhead (Genesis 1:26-27) distributes individually to his children the things that we need to accomplish what he wills (I Corinthians 12:11); he gives us all a “language” that the people he “assigns to us” can translate and I’m thankful that “non-believers” don’t feel that I speak in a “foreign language”.
As I sat and thought about that brief exchange and how much I’ve grown to be able to sincerely love those who differ from me in ways that I truly do not understand, I thought about I John 4:20-21 (NKJV): “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? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
The “super religious” may argue that those who do not claim to be God’s children are not our “brothers and sisters”, but does me believing that I’m not black make me some other race? No. And quite frankly, I’ve come to see that many of my non-believing loved ones are that way, not because of anything the Theotes (Greek for “Godhead”) did, but what people who claim to follow them have done…to them (Matthew 23:13). Shoot, even with enemies—people who actually do/did intend us harm—we are to bless them, do good to them, pray for them…love them, trusting that El Shaddai always has a plan…and it’s always better than ours (Matthew 5:43-45).
I then thought back to a Scripture that has been on my mind all day long since I looked at a parking ticket in my car (and we’ll get to that in a second). The verse that has been ringing like church bells in my head space is Romans 13:8 (NKJV): “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Owe love. OWE. LOVE. I think I am going to make some t-shirts with that on it because the truth (John 8:32) tells us that we are not just to “give love” to others as if they are some destitute beggars on the side of life’s road and we are so “grand” to give them a “love handout”. No, as followers of Christ—the ultimate earthly example of love—we owe it to peopleto be the tangible examples of I Corinthians 13:4-8, the Love Chapter.
We OWE patience.
WE OWE kindness.
We OWE politeness.
We OWE trust, hope and endurance.
Owe:to be under obligation to pay or repay; to be indebted (to) as the cause or source of; to have or bear (a feeling or attitude) toward someone or something; to possess; own
Why? Because love is not a resource that comes from us. It was given to us by our Creator and the only way we continue to have access to it is by remaining humbly connectedto him. How do I know?
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”—I John 4:7-11 (NKJV)
Which brings me to my parking ticket and the final point of this message. I don’t get tickets often and to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out just why I got this one. That said, I was tempted to procrastinate in paying it, not feeling that it was “owed”. I looked at the debt now: $25. If I wait until after its due date, I will then owe $92. I can “try my luck” debating it in court, but we all know that I probably won’t win…that it will be a waste of time. I should have been more cautious with the warning signs along the road (a message unto itself), but I wasn’t and there’s a penalty for that. My best bet? TO PAY WHAT I OWE NOW. If I wait, it will just make matters worst and the consequences will be more costly.
I wonder what relationships would be like if we looked at offenses, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, crossed lines of communication, transitions, etc. in this same manner. I Corinthians 10:31-33 (NKJV) advises us to “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
Offense: a violation or breaking of a social or moral rule; transgression; sin; something that offends or displeases; the act of attacking; attack or assault
Give no offense. To the Jews orthe Gentiles (catch that). That is the standard that we all are to live up to, but just like me rarely getting tickets but sometimes slipping up, we all will encounter moments when we do hurt others (I John 1:10). We’re made up of flesh and spirit (Galatians 5:16-17), and flesh can be quite offensive, at times. And so, when we do hurt someone, violate them, transgress against them, displease them…cause them to feel attacked or assaulted (not rebuked, but attacked—Hebrews 12:6), there is a debt to them that must be paidbecause one of the main purposes of love is to heal which oftentimes leads people to a place of salvation (deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption; the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.).
God is merciful (Lamentations 3:22-24). When we offend someone, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) usually gives us a head’s up to apologize and/or check on the person who is hurting. A simple-and-swift (heartfelt and spirit-repentant) apology is like that $25 ticket. Oh, but when we let pride come in (Proverbs 11:12), when we want to “debate our view”, the delay comes with a stiffer penalty because time has allowed for bitterness to set in. Now it’s more like that $92. We have to expend so much more of ourselves, we have to pay a “higher price”, all because our deceitful hearts chose to listen to our prideful flesh rather than our loving spirits.
And is it ever worth it? No. It ends up costing us more time, more energy, more emotional strain…more work. And it didn’t have to take all of that.
My point? It’s simple and a bit redundant. Owe love. Daily. Cause since God loved us and gave us his Son, it’s the very least that we can do. And when you do “pay what you owe”, accept the debt that it costs to set things back right. Shoot, I’m still paying interests in some wrongs I’ve done all because I didn’t address them when the Lord first instructed me to. My opinion, my fear, my feelings about it don’t compare to the work it has taken to get back right with those people so that I can ultimately get right with our Father.
We’re not doing anyone a favor by loving them. We are simply doing a service.
One that is owed.
So, you feel like you have a lot of love to give? Hoarding won’t do any good. Love is meant to be spent. And, even now, chances are, because you’re human, there’s a debt somewhere. Check your conscience for the price…
©Shellie R. Warren/2010