Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. Romans 13:8
Billy, a loving and loyal dog, became an internet star in 2020. His owner, Russell, had broken his ankle and was using crutches to walk. Soon the dog also began to hobble when walking with his owner. Concerned, Russell took Billy to the vet, who said there was nothing wrong with him! He ran freely when he was by himself. It turned out that the dog faked a limp when he walked with his owner. That’s what you call trying to truly identify with someone’s pain!
Coming alongside others is forefront in the apostle Paul’s instructions to the church in Rome. He summed up the last five of the Ten Commandments in this way: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9). We can see the importance of walking with others in verse 8 as well: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.”
Author Jenny Albers advises: “When someone is broken, don’t try to fix them. (You can’t.) When someone is hurting, don’t attempt to take away their pain. (You can’t.) Instead, love them by walking beside them in the hurt. (You can.) Because sometimes what people need is simply to know they aren’t alone.”
Because Jesus, our Savior, walks alongside us through all our hurt and pain, we know what it means to walk with others.
Who needs you to come alongside them this week? In what way might God want you to do that?
Open my eyes, God, to the needs of people around me. Help me to be a loving friend.
We tend to think of the law as restrictive, but Paul took a thoroughly positive approach by saying, “Love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). If we’re truly loving our neighbor, we won’t commit the sins he lists here: adultery, murder, theft, coveting (v. 9). Perhaps most interesting among these prohibitions is the easily overlooked sin of coveting. Desiring what others have can lead us to all kinds of unloving thoughts, which left unchecked will result in unloving actions. Notably, in this passage Paul echoed what Jesus said when a legal expert asked Him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36–37), and then noted that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 39).