Paul’s use of words here are very interesting when you think about it.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. (8)
What is a debt? It’s something that you owe to someone else. Paul is literally saying that we owe it to the people around us to love them.
Think about that a moment. What would you say if someone were to say to you, “You have to love me. You owe it to me.”
It’s hard to wrap your mind around it, at least it is for me. Quite frankly, if someone were to say that to me, I’d probably say, “Forget that. I’m out of here. I don’t owe you anything.”
Yet Paul says we do. Why?
First, no matter who they are, they are people created in the image of God. And for that reason alone, they are worthy of our love.
Second, God loves them. And if God loves them, then we need to see them the same way. As people deserving of our love.
But so often, we devalue people. We see them as unlovable. Why?
Sometimes it’s because they’re “different.” Sometimes it’s because of the things they do. And too often, it’s so hard to see beyond that.
But we need to remember that as people created and loved by God, they are worthy of our love. To withhold that love from them is to tell God, “You made junk. You are wrong to love that person.”
I think, though, there is another reason we owe love to others. It’s because God loves us and gave his Son for us. Jesus paid a terrible price on the cross to save us from our sin. And it’s a debt we can never repay. But since we have received a love and grace that we didn’t deserve, we owe it to God to pass on what we have received from him to the people around us, even if in our eyes, they don’t deserve it. Jesus put it this way,
Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
How about you? Are you passing the love you have received from God freely with those around you?