OWED TO LOVE
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Analysis by Mark Marius
8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The 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.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
11Besides 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; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
DIAGNOSIS: Asleep: Law without love is lifelessness
Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem): Living Lonely by the Law
The Commandments are ours to keep. However when our focus in on how well we keep the commandments we lose site of the ones these laws are designed to help and protect—our neighbors. So in our efforts to not hurt our own standing with God, we don’t help others.
Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem): Following the Law Doesn’t Fulfill It
Besides this we know the time for our need of salvation is near. So we can’t help but feel the demand to follow the law. But following is far from fulfilling the law. So our conviction, by the law, forces us to focus on our own flesh. And our flesh deceives us to satisfy its desires instead of trusting God’s desire for us.
Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem): Owing Everything
We owe everything to our keeping the law. And in that pursuit we find ourselves in a trance. We have forsaken our love of God and neighbor for the love of self, which is not fulfilling, nor following the law but failing it. And at the judgment, we now have no salvation to put on. Instead we stand naked—our clothes useless because they are stained by a laundry list of sins
PROGNOSIS: Awoke: Love Fulfills the Law for Life
Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution): Love Fulfills the Law
God gave us the Love we need to fulfill the law: Christ. Through his death on the cross and resurrection to new life, God’s love was poured out on a dying world. That act of love erased our debt to God’s law—our very life. Why do such a thing? Because it is what God desires to give us – love.
Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution): We Are Filled by Love
This love fulfills us. Through the sacraments we are filled with the Spirit of love and a faith that trusts Christ over our own flesh. So we gladly put on Christ to illuminate the good works God does through us.
Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution): Woke to Loving Others
We no longer look to God’s law as something we must follow for our own good, but rather are woke to our desire to fulfill the needs of others. That desire comes from God’s love for us, which we share with our neighbors. In love we share Christ’s forgiveness with them, as often as they need it, so they too can wear it as salvation nears.