Romans 13:9-10 – Love Fulfils The Law


To say that the Christian ethic is a law based ethic can give a false impression.  Here is a typical example: ‘There is a tale told of a missionary in a dark corner of Africa where the men had a habit of filing their teeth to sharp points.  He was hard at work trying to convert a native chief.  Now the chief was very old, and the missionary was very Old Testament—his version of Christianity leaned heavily on thou-shalt-nots.  The savage listened patiently.

‘I do not understand,’ he said at last.  ‘You tell me that I must not take my neighbour’s wife.’

‘That’s right,’ said the missionary.

‘Or his ivory, or his oxen.’

‘Quite right.’

‘And I must not dance the war dance and then ambush him on a trail and kill him.’

‘Absolutely right!’

‘But I cannot do any of these things!’ said the savage regretfully.  ‘I am too old.  To be old and to be a Christian, they are the same thing!’

Sadly many think of Christianity in the same way today, that its way living is all about what we don’t do.  Paul in the portion before us is helping us understand that love fulfils the law.  That the intent of the thou-shalt-nots are to demonstrate love, and that the law is not exhausted when you don’t break all the laws, if this were the case being dead would make you perfect in the eyes of the law.  The bible insists that holiness is a positive thing, that it is love which fulfils the law.