“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:8 – 9)
I say again, the Apostle Paul is NOT a warm-fuzzy cuddly person. I, on the other hand, am. (Except when I am angry or in pain – and then it is every member of creation for themselves!) I think in terms of warm-fuzzy soft cuddly. From young on up, I tried to loved/treated everyone in the same way I wished to be treated. In fact, sometimes I treated others BETTER than I treated myself. But of late I am treating myself with the same care and kindness that I treat others. I thought I knew how to do self-care, but I am learning it at a whole new and deeper level. And I am finding it much easier to have patience and care for others, when I know I have my “own back.”
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Verse 10)
Here Paul gives us a view into his “love” for others; he does right by every person. That is not the same as being an “old softie” and alludes towards “tough love” – which is another trait that I developed at decade ago. (Who says an old “blank” can’t learn new tricks!)
If in your “loving” and “caring” for a person, you do them harm or injustice – what you thought was love was only your distorted, or more gently described well meaning intentions. That actually might explain some of the statement Paul made over the time of his ministry – he meant well.
“Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Verses 11 – 14)
There is some difference of opinion as to why Paul feels it is critical to get this “passing the love along” correct. It might be because the second coming of Jesus Christ was – he thought – close at hand. It might be because his readers have matured in their faith and are more able to practice their faith and authentic Christian living with more diligence and depth. It also might be because they are being watched as to how Christians conduct themselves; that is actually my own idea, not one culled from the biblical commentators. And if truth be told, it is a good admonition for us to pass along the love that Jesus Christ and the Lord God would have us show. Some Christian practices seem to be more of judgment and condemnation – hurting and doing wrong to others than doing right. Yes, the more I think about this, the more this interpretation seems good. We know what the times are like; there is civil, political, and social unrest. Our global community is under more stress and pressure then this current generation is likely to remember and/or know about.
We all need to do self-care, if we are to get through our current situation. It behooves us to offer to others the depth, breadth and softness of care that we wish for ourselves, and that we do for ourselves! May you, beloved reader, care for yourself with the same tenderness that Jesus Christ would offer; and may the Divine stir in you the same love for others! Shalom & Selah!