Love, for the day is near

This is written by Matt Coombs. He is married to Pip, on the leadership team of St Mary's and responsible for all things pastoral.

Romans 13:8-14

Love fulfils the law
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 neighbour as yourself.' 10 Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

The day is near
11 And do this, understanding the present time: the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.


'Love is the fulfilment of the Law'
The Jewish understanding of the law was that it was a gift from God to his chosen people that allowed them to live in relationship with him. Obedience to the law was never a means to earning that relationship, because it was a gift, instead it was an expression of love to the God who led them out of Egypt.

Obedience and worship has and will always be the appropriate response to God's overwhelming grace and mercy. Or as the apostle John puts it: 'we love because he first loved us.'

Think about the law like it is a wedding ring – a precious gift that speaks of commitment and love, but also says to others that this person belongs to someone else. Living according to the law was one of the ways by which Israel could be a light to the nations: showing the world the generosity and kindness of their God.

However, there was a problem, for many people, the law ceased to be an expression of love for God, but had become an obligation. Duty and not devotion.

But Paul reminds us about that what is at the core of the law – loving God and loving others. Like Israel, it is our love for one another that sets us apart as God's children – people of light. Jesus said something similar – A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

So how do we live as people of the light in a dark world? Or as citizens of heaven here on earth? The answer is simple: we love our neighbours as ourselves. And in doing so the law is fulfilled: for love is both the means and the end in the Christian life.
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