In transactions involving money, there is a certain type of even exchange that takes place. You buy me an iced chai tea, I owe you $3.00 (or whatever.) I give you $5.00, you owe me $2.00. You give me back $2.00, we’re even. Of course at any time, one of us can declare that the debt is “forgiven”, which literally means “no debt owed” and the process ends right there. Either way, the deal was nice and tidy.
Not so when it comes to love.
In a letter to a group of Believers, recorded in the Bible, the apostle Paul wrote, “do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another.” Apparently, acts of love produce their own special kind of debt. Simple quid pro quo (this for that) is out the window. It’s quid pro quo pro quid pro quo pro quid pro quo … and on to infinity. And scripture is filled with commands for us to love one another, so paying up – or trying to – is not optional, it’s mandatory.
The phrase “one another” reveals an interesting dynamic as well. The command applies to every interpersonal relationship in the entire group. Everyone is obliged to everyone.
But what if no one treats me with love? Am I then absolved of the obligation? Not at all, for we’re also told that the true reason we love is in response to God’s love for us, which is indisputable.
Imagine being part of a community of faith where all those involved knew they owed each of the others a debt of love … and where they constantly sought to pay that debt, in obedience to the Scripture. Glory Hallelujah.