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Romans 13:8-14

A NOTE FROM PASTOR CHARLIE For these devotions from September 5 to September 18, I will be sharing devotions I wrote a couple of years ago for a previous blog. These will not be following the readings for the coming Sunday, but will still offer an opportunity for Bible readings and reflection.

We will be back to the assigned readings for worship once again starting September 19.

Romans 13:8-14

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.

Today’s devotion is from an article in Christian Century magazine.

Rules vs. love

by Joann H. Lee

September 2, 2014

Joann H. Lee is associate pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco.

The household I grew up in did not have a lot of rules. My parents were first-generation immigrants who worked 12 hours a day, six days a week. So even if we'd had a lot of rules, they would not have been home to enforce most of them.

When I began high school, I treated anything resembling a rule as more of just a general guideline. My parents expected me to regulate myself, and often they were too tired and too busy to be strict.

After I got my driver’s license, however, my parents did ask me to do one thing: call if I would be home after 10.

I distinctly remember one weekend when I lost track of time as I hung out with friends. As I drove home, I steeled myself, preparing to get in trouble and for the punishment that would follow.

But when I walked through the door, my dad was so relieved he began to cry. I could see in his face all the worry that had built up each minute I was late. His love, turned from concern to relief, was palpable. And it was that love, not any rule, that made me strive to be a better daughter and a better person.

In Romans, the Apostle Paul says that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” When we allow God’s love to encompass us, and then share that love with others, we are able to give even beyond the generosity, care, and concern for neighbor that the laws were set up to cultivate. In fact, the call to love is not an escape from our duties to one another. It's a call to live with even more intentionality and attention to the needs of others.

We do so not because some rules or laws tell us we have to but because we have experienced that radical and welcoming love ourselves, and that love compels us to strive to be better.

We are not called to be rule followers. We are called to experience and understand the deep love that undergirds and upholds the commandments of God—and by intimately being known and loved by our God, to then extend and share that love with the world.

Dear God, may we see your commands as gifts of your love for us and for others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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