Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Online Sunday School
Instructions: Read through the lesson below (if you are in a group take turns reading). Then have a discussion, possible questions are included at the end. If you are alone, try to pair up with others in a small group though texting or even a phone call.
Scripture: Romans 13:8-10
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 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.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law”
(Romans 13:8-10 NIV).
Has someone ever done you a favor so great that you felt like you owed them a debt, that in some way, you needed to do something as great to repay them? In Paul’s day this was a way of life. It was called patronage and is still very much alive today. It was not just between friends, but business was conducted this way. People would do a favor, loan money, or give something, just to get the upper hand over you. In those days, sometimes the gift would even be a daughter in marriage. The more people you had in debt to you the more you were worth and respected. This is why God warned the Israelites against taking the daughters of the Canaanites in marriage and doing business with the people in the land He was giving them.
The debt that Paul is speaking about is a debt that traps you and makes you vulnerable to the influence of others. This is why he says first, “Let no debt remain outstanding.” In this way you will owe allegiance to no one save God. This is for your protection. I know some of you are right now scrambling around in your seats because you have a mortgage, a couple of car payments, and a few credit cards. Paul is however saying what he is saying, take it for what it is. If you are handling your debt now, okay. What if your circumstance change? Where does your allegiance get pulled?
Paul does, however, tell us one debt we should owe and owe it to all. It is the debt of Love. He writes, “except the continuing debt to love one another.” But, one needs to know that this debt is not owed to other people for any reason of patronage. No, it is to be owed simply because they were made in the Image of God. It is also not to be thought of as some sort of duty. Love cannot be love if it is an obligation. It is no wonder that Paul quotes five commandments that deal with how one should treat each other and ties them to loving others—“Love does no harm.” This kind of love we only get from the filling of the Holy Spirit. Only from God’s love for us will this kind of love and indebtedness flow freely to others.
It is this love, that freely flows from the Father, through the Spirit in us, out of us to others, that is fulfilling the law. I am in no way speaking of an obligation to the law, but to a perfecting of love that allows the law to be accomplished. This love does not set aside the law or replace the law it is still what it is, but instead it completes the law in perfecting the law. In this way love fulfills, perfects, the law by allowing us to do far more than what the law requires and forbids. Paul is saying that the law cannot be fulfilled by some moral dictate placed upon us, but can only be fulfilled within us believers filled with the Spirit from the inside out.
1. Are you in debt to Christ, are you in debt to Love?
2. Where does your patronage lay and what is it causing you to do? Does it pull you nearer to God or away from God?
3. Can you allow the Spirit to perfect love in you? Can you let that love flow out to others?
Thank you, Pastor Perry
_________________________________________________________________________  William M. Greathouse and George Lyons, Romans 9–16: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, New Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2008), 183  Exodus 34:15-16  William M. Greathouse and George Lyons, Romans 9–16: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, New Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2008), 185.  William M. Greathouse and George Lyons, Romans 9–16: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, New Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2008), 187.  William M. Greathouse and George Lyons, Romans 9–16: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, New Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2008), 189.  Ibid, 189