The Sum Total is Love
By Tracy Jessup
“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet;’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)
Tyler and Melanie Tapajna canceled their wedding reception due to COVID-19. They were concerned about their families getting sick and did not want to risk anything. Their wedding dinner was scheduled to be catered by a food truck, and they could have received a full refund, but Tyler and Melanie chose to donate the food to Laura’s Home, a shelter in Cleveland, Ohio for women and children in need which helps people overcome homelessness. About 70 kids currently attend the program with their mothers.
According to a CBS news story, “Melanie and her now-husband, Tyler, held their ceremony on August 15, and right after tying the knot, they went to Laura’s Home to get to work. The food truck that was catering their wedding set up the food in Laura’s Home kitchen and the bride and groom helped serve the meal – while still wearing a wedding dress and tux… In total, the couple gave out about 100 meals to the kids and their moms” (Caitlin O’Kane, “Bride and groom who canceled wedding reception due to COVID-19 donate food to shelter,” 08/27/20).
Tyler and Melanie’s wedding photos include shots of them in the kitchen and walking around to tables – as well as some of the smiling faces of the kids at Laura’s Home. The lesson they learned in all of this? Melanie said, “Even in hard times, you can give back.” The couple plans to make this an annual tradition.
In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul moves from addressing the Christian’s responsibility to “be subject to the governing authorities,” to the Christian’s responsibility to love. One of the most familiar commands of the gospel is that of loving one another. We are more likely to associate love with a feeling rather than a command. Yet, the witness of the New Testament speaks in positive ways to our obligation to love one another. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Similarly, the Apostle John writes, “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
Paul refers to loving our neighbor as an unpaid debt. While we should be dedicated to meeting our financial obligations, one debt always will remain outstanding. Our responsibility to love never goes away. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Jesus insisted that there is no other commandment greater than the commandments to love God and neighbor (Mark 12:30-31). Paul agrees. “You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love” (Romans 13:10, The Message).
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the example of people like Tyler and Melanie who show what it means to love one’s neighbor. Most of all, thank you for the demonstration of your love in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.
Read more Good News from Dr. Jessup HERE.