SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul encourages us, as God's people, to be responsible citizens who obey the government and it's laws, including paying taxes. The only exception is if obeying the government would force you to disobey God.
- Paul then teaches us that all of God's laws are summed up in love; all the rules and laws of the Old Testament were given to teach us a life of love. Love is the fulfillment of the law.
- In the final section of the chapter, Paul warns us not to get caught up in daily life and forget about God. It's easy to waste our life away living for the wrong things. If we're wise we'll say no to temptation and live for Jesus.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- It can be frustrating and easy to say unkind things about a President or a Congressman if we don't agree with their political views. But Paul makes it clear that this is not okay. God is very aware that they are in charge, and expects us to be gracious and to show respect for their leadership anyway. By showing respect to them, you are showing reverence for God.
- At Verve we say "Love God, Love People, Turn the World Upside Down." This chapter tells us that the entire law is loving God and loving people. Everything God says leads us to a life of love. With love, there is no murder. With love, there is no jealousy. With true love, there is no lust. With love, there is no reason to lie. With love, we would never hurt others. With love, we would honor God and our family. Love IS God, and God IS love.
- Verse 11 says "our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." The idea is that every day we get closer to the time when Jesus will either return to Earth to end the world as we know it, or to the day of our death. That thought should inspire us to live in a way we can be proud of and not regret.
- Verses 13-14 deal with sin. Paul warns not to even think about sin. Why? The idea is that thinking about sin often leads to the sin itself. The good news is that there is a way out. Verse 14 says to "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ." This does not mean gritting your teeth and avoiding sin through sheer willpower. This means trusting and receiving the power of God to leave your old life behind and live a new life in Jesus Christ.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What thoughts consume your day? If you're a Christian, do you find yourself thinking about all the "fun" things you're missing out on? Or do you spend your time thinking about how you could show more love to your neighbor or your co-worker? What are some of the reasons to devote your life to love instead of satisfying your selfish desires? What are some of the things you could do to "clothe yourself with Christ"?