Loving and living for Jesus (Romans 13:8-14)

I remember as a teenager, sitting next to one of my youth leaders at a Christian festival one Summer in a seminar about the Old Testament laws.  The speaker asked us, "So why do you think God gave the Israelites the ten commandments?"  My youth leader put his hand up and answered, "For their enjoyment."  People weren't sure if he was joking or not and there was a moment of strange awkwardness before the speaker moved on to less surprising answers but I think my friend was right - When God gives his people laws or commands, it's because he loves them and wants them to enjoy him and be like him.  Our best reason for keeping God's laws is because we love him back, enjoy a relationship with him and want to be like him.

STOP and read Romans 13:8-14

Paul says love is the fulfillment of the law because God's commands are about loving him and loving one another.  Interestingly, Jesus claimed he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17).  Part of what this means is that he kept all of God's commandments and lived a perfect life of love to his Father and to others.  Those who trust and follow Jesus are empowered by God the Holy Spirit to do the same.  Not to earn God's love but because in Jesus, they have already received it and want to share it with others.

Paul then commends living for Jesus by comparing this world to the night and heaven to the day.  Crime happens in the cover of night and in the darkness, people do evil and selfish things but when daylight comes, it's harder to hide.  This is the picture Paul uses to urge Christians to get busy loving and living for Jesus now because they don't know how much longer we have before Jesus returns.  It's not about being caught doing the wrong things - Jesus sees everything anyway!  It's about making the most of the opportunity while it's still here to show and to share the love of Jesus and to see as many people as possible trust and follow him and receive his love and forgiveness before it's too late.

Christians don't live this way in their own strength.  Paul uses the language of being "clothed with Christ" to illustrate how this life is possible.  Christians are those who have trusted Jesus, received the Holy Spirit of Jesus and are not only graciously forgiven but graciously empowered to live a new life as lights in a dark world (John 8:12).