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Devotional Hours with the Bible, Volume 8: Chapter 22 - The Law of Love

By J.R. Miller

      Romans 13:8-14

      Christian teachings deal with life. To begin with, here is a word about debt-paying. "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." We should never fail to pay a debt when it falls due. The person to whom we owe it expects the money at that time, and bases his own engagements upon the receiving of it. If we do not pay him, he in turn is left unable to pay another to whom he is indebted, and who can tell how many other people, in turn, will be disappointed, and perhaps left in embarrassment, because of our failure to pay our debt? Then, it is a bad habit for anyone to form--allowing debts to go unpaid. Like other habits, too, it grows easily, and soon becomes so fixed that a man thinks nothing of being in debt.

      There is a kind of indebtedness, however, which none of us can help--the debt of love. We never can get it paid off. Of course, we are to pay it as fast as it falls due. But even when we do this we cannot get out of love's debt. At the close of a day we may feel that we have met all our obligations of love to all about us--family, friends, neighbors. Yet, when we arise next morning, we find all the debts of yesterday facing us again, not one of them diminished. We can do nothing but begin to pay them off again, toiling the whole day to do it.

      Love includes all other duties. "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." All the other commandments are mere fragments of the law of love. All the duties which we owe to others, really gather themselves in concentration into the one golden duty of love. He who loves--truly obeys all the commandments. This Paul illustrates in the following verse. "The commandments: "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

      Love never does another any harm. "Love does no harm to its neighbor." Love always thinks of other people's good. Whatever, therefore, injures another in any way--is a violation of love's duty. What about the man who tempts a boy to drink and puts the first glass of alcohol into his hand? Has he wrought no harm on his neighbor? Suppose that a few years hence this boy has become a drunkard--whose is the guilt of having started him in his course of ruin? What about the saloon-keepers, who, to make money, deal out intoxicating drinks to the men--young and old, weak and strong? Think of the ruin wrought in lives, in homes? Is there any good to counterbalance the evil? Are any homes, brightened, sweetened, made happier, better, holier, truer--by the saloon? Are any lives made purer, cleaner, more earnest, more beautiful, nobler, more godlike--by the saloon?

      There is a call here to awake. "It is time for you to awake out of sleep." The picture suggested is of one still asleep when the sun is high in the heavens. There is a great pressure of duty--but the man sleeps, indifferent to all calls. During the day we have duties, which would crowd every moment if we were doing them all. But here are men sleeping away half their day, leaving their work untouched.

      The man who never thinks of eternity is asleep; yet he may be very busy in worldly things, a "wide-awake man," his neighbors may call him ambitious, alert, diligent, successful--but if he does not think of God and the eternal world, he is asleep. The world is full of such people, and we ought to try to wake them up before it is too late.

      Night covers many deeds of sin and shame. When day comes, wrongdoings hangs its head. We are living in the light and we should be ashamed to continue doing the things of darkness. Here again we touch the saloon business. Surely it is among the "works of darkness." Even saloon keepers practically admit this, for who ever saw a saloon open to the daylight and to all eyes, as other kinds of business are? Its windows are made dim or opaque, and its doors are made to shut quickly after a man enters. No one passing outside can see what is going on inside. This itself is a confession, which puts a question on the business. It all were open to the public, as a dry goods store, men would be ashamed to go in.

      In the thirteenth verse we come again upon intemperance, "Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy." Whatever anyone may say about the Bible's position on the question of wines, there is not a shadow of doubt where it stands concerning drunkenness. It puts it down among the most debasing of sins, the most degrading, the most ruinous of all vices. Can there be anything more debasing of a man with an immortal nature--than to get drunk! Of course, no one intends to get drunk when he begins to drink. But the story is familiar to need writing out--of the end of nine cases out of ten of moderate drinking. The only absolute safety is total abstinence.

      "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." The only true way to get rid of the wrong things in our life--is to put on Christ. Being good merely by not being bad, is not enough. There is a striking parable of an expelled evil spirit. He went out of the man under some pressure, and wandered, desolate and restless, through deserts until, discontent not to be injuring someone, he wandered back to his old place and found the man in whom he had dwelt. He found his old house swept and garnished--but empty yet, and gathering up some other demons worse than himself, he reentered the unoccupied house, and the last state of that man was worse than the first. It is not enough to put out the demon; we must also admit the Christ into our heart's house. Emptiness is always a condition of peril.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - Christ's Ascension
   Chapter 2 - The Holy Spirit Given
   Chapter 3 - A Multitude Converted
   Chapter 4 - The Lame Man Healed
   Chapter 5 - The Trial of Peter and John
   Chapter 6 - The Sin of Lying
   Chapter 7 - The Apostles Imprisoned
   Chapter 8 - Stephen the First Martyr
   Chapter 9 - The Disciples Dispersed
   Chapter 10 - The First Ethiopian Convert
   Chapter 11 - The Conversion of Saul
   Chapter 12 - Peter and Cornelius
   Chapter 13 - Gentiles Converted at Antioch
   Chapter 14 - Peter Delivered From Prison
   Chapter 15 - The First Christian Missionaries
   Chapter 16 - The Council at Jerusalem
   Chapter 17 - Paul Before King Agrippa
   Chapter 18 - Paul's Voyage and Shipwreck
   Chapter 19 - Justification by Faith
   Chapter 20 - The Life-Giving Spirit
   Chapter 21 - Christian Living
   Chapter 22 - The Law of Love
   Chapter 23 - Abstaining for the Sake of Others
   Chapter 24 - A Lesson in Self-Denial
   Chapter 25 - The Lord's Supper
   Chapter 26 - Paul on Christian Love
   Chapter 27 - The Risen Christ
   Chapter 28 - Paul on the Grace of Giving
   Chapter 29 - The Flesh and the Spirit
   Chapter 30 - The Imitation of Christ
   Chapter 31 - A Call to Christlike Living
   Chapter 32 - The Christian Armor
   Chapter 33 - Christ's Humility and Exaltation
   Chapter 34 - The New Life in Christ
   Chapter 35 - Paul's Counsel to the Thessalonians
   Chapter 36 - Paul's Charge to Timothy
   Chapter 37 - Sober Living
   Chapter 38 - The Priesthood of Christ
   Chapter 39 - Heroes of Faith
   Chapter 40 - Believing and Doing
   Chapter 41 - The Power of the Tongue
   Chapter 42 - The Heavenly Inheritance
   Chapter 43 - Beneficial Warnings
   Chapter 44 - Sin and Salvation
   Chapter 45 - God's Love in the Gift of His Son
   Chapter 46 - Jesus Appears to John
   Chapter 47 - Heavenly Worship
   Chapter 48 - The Saints in Heaven
   Chapter 49 - The Heavenly Home
   Chapter 50 - The Great Invitation


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