PASTOR’S MESSAGE WITH: REV. DR. HERB RHEDRICK
Have you ever been under the influence? While alcohol and drugs are the most common mind-altering substances, there are many others in our society, including our peers and our careers. In Romans 13:8-10, Paul discusses how we should be under the influence of love.
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
First, the Bible does not prohibit borrowing money. What the Bible does forbid is the charging of high interest and failing to pay honest debts. Basically, the first part of this verse means “Pay your bills on time.” However, the one outstanding, on-going obligation we are to have is a continuous debt to love one another. Jesus said it this way in John 13:34-35: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
But, Paul doesn’t stop there. In fact, he says it is not Christ-like to just love other believers while hating others.
We are to extend love to all. Our concern should reach out to believer and nonbeliever alike (cf. Matt 5:44–45). Obviously, love may take different forms depending on the recipient, but the decision to place the welfare of others over that of our own is not limited to those of our faith. But, how does under the influence of love look day-to-day?
Paul says that genuine love is recognized when we don’t commit wrongs against others and when we practice the commandments not to commit adultery, murder, steal or covet, as well as, 600-plus other commands. When we violate these commands, we are not expressing our actions of agape love. What Paul is saying is godly people do not do ungodly things to other people.
The proof of our love is when we love our neighbor as our self. Loving one’s neighbor as oneself does not imply a self-focused, self-love, infatuation with self. Rather, it is a simple way of saying, take care of your neighbor with the same natural motivation that you take care of yourself. Paul is saying that love is not just a feeling, it has a behavioral aspect. When the Bible says, “I am to love my neighbor,” it means I am to be considerate to my neighbor. It has to do with my actions.
And who is this neighbor that we are to love. It is the person who has a need that you can meet. Love is the inevitable response of a heart truly touched by God. God’s love manifests itself through the loving acts of His children. Where it is absent, any claim to a family relationship is merely pretense.
Therefore, if your life is controlled by love, you will not need any other law to determine how you will treat anyone else. This is the influence to be under, always. Practice this week being under the influence of love.