Reflections: Tuesday of the Fourth Week after the Epiphany

Today’s Reading: Romans 13:8-10

Daily Lectionary: Zechariah 11:4-17; 2 Timothy 4:1-18

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10) 


In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul certainly doesn’t set the bar very high, does he? “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Who does Paul think we are? Sinners who are always offending God, justly deserving His now and forever punishment? I think we know the answer. We confess it every Sunday.

The world, however, ignores this judgment. Convinced of its own righteousness, it looks to the Law for confirmation of its own righteousness in its own works and thinks it has found it there. Of course, to avoid the charge of being self-serving with the Law, the world talks about the Law as being a complex and sophisticated system of morality. How insulting to hear Paul say that it’s not rocket science at all. It’s just, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” 

The baptized know such love. For though we are lost and condemned in our own sin, Jesus comes to us every day with the promise of His Cross in Baptism, washing us, cleansing us, not at all harming but presenting us holy and blameless to His Father. He comes not to harm but to forgive in the Absolution and sermons we hear from our pastor. And Jesus comes not to harm but to save with His Body and Blood at His Supper, “for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” Yes, Jesus knows exactly who we are. 

While such love may not fix or solve everything that is wrong in this life, including ourselves, it is the love God has promised and given you and me in this life. No, He has not promised us our best life here and now. But He has promised us His redeeming, forgiving, saving love in Jesus. And that makes love the one thing, the only thing, the baptized now owe all others (Romans 13:8).

Fixing and solving is a God-thing, really. Even a Last Day sort of thing. A for now thing, a baptized-thing, is just to love: to forgive, to help, to pray for, to serve and point everyone, friend and foe, to Jesus and His Cross. There’s no harm in that. Just love. Just more Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav’n, to earth come down! Fix in us Thy humble dwelling, All Thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure, unbounded love Thou art; Visit us with Thy salvation, Enter ev’ry trembling heart. (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” LSB 700, st.1)  

-Rev. Bradley Drew is pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.

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