A sermon on a Christian’s duty, based on Romans 13:7-14 (Proper 18A).
Scripture: Romans 13:7-14
‘Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.’ Romans 13:7-14 [NIV]
Chapters 13 and 14 of the Letter to the Roman church deal with issues, as follows:
- The Christian and the State –13:1-7.
- Christian Duty –13:8-14.
- Balancing Liberty and Charity in the community–14:1-15:13.
Exegesis: a Christian’s Duty
What single guiding principle should control the Christian’s life in society?
“Love.” Not a mushy emotion, but an endless debt of charity to others. Not just to other Christians, but to all people, particularly those in need. We ‘love’ (care for) ourselves, constantly, faithfully to the end of our lives – for example, we breathe in and out!
C.f. Romans 12:1 ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.’
A motive for why we should live like this.
What further motive does he present here?
We now live in the age of salvation. People no longer need to get what they deserve – God’s grace through Jesus can save all. Therefore, we are motivated to live as generously.
No further actions need to take place to fulfil God’s plan for humankind. None of us know when the last days will be – except that for some of us they will be soon.
What will wearing the ‘armour of light’ mean for us, both positively and negatively?
We have nothing to fear from living openly and plainly. Christians do not need to play games with God or with each other.
We do not have the option to be ‘economical with the truth’ for our convenience! Christians may not hide their faith or stop doing their duty. This may bring trouble from those who don’t want to hear about human shortcomings, or that we can live a righteous or holy life only in God’s mercy.