Paul goes on to say:
Why all this stress on behaviour? Because, as I think you have realised, the present time is of the highest importance – it is time to wake up to reality. Every day brings God’s salvation nearer. The night is nearly over, the day has almost dawned. Let us therefore fling away the things that men do in the dark, let us arm ourselves for the fight of the day! Let us live cleanly, as in the daylight, not in the “delights” of getting drunk or playing with sex, nor yet in quarrelling or jealousies. Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chances to the flesh to have its fling (Romans 13:11-14)
So what Paul is saying is that we are to love our neighbor; pay the debt we owe him, because we understand the time. That is, there is something about the age (he lived in and now) we live in, if you understand it, it will compel you, motivate you, drive you to love your neighbor. If you understand the times, you will also be able to do this.
First, he says it is time to get going: “It is time to wake up to reality. Every day brings God’s salvation nearer. The night is nearly over, the day has almost dawned.”
Please understand. I do not mean to sound condescending or rude, but it seems obvious that we are running out of time. As one teacher has said, the Lord is not “’on His way,’ he has raised his hand to knock on the door.” Think about that. It is one thing for me to be on the highway as I drive over to your house—and quite another for me to be standing on your steps, ringing your doorbell. I love the magazine from Jack Van Impe Ministries: “Maybe Today.” What a sense of expectation!
It is time to wake up, time to get going, time to look around and see all the opportunities to love that abound around us and I am amazed to see how many times in my own life I pass over the opportunity to love. I am always looking for opportunities with other people out there, further away. Yet I am surrounded in my own family with opportunities to show love, even when it is difficult. Not only that, we are called to love folks that are . . . well frankly . . . difficult to love. I am always amazed by how easily people can want to help somebody they don’t even know and yet ignore the problems at their own doorstep.
Let me give you’re an example . . . I saw a couple bring some clothes down to the church one day to give to the Rescue Mission. The lady was so concerned about the needs of those who could not afford proper clothing. However, what I noticed is that her husband had to hold his pants up with a rope. Now there is nothing specifically wrong with that, but it dawned on me as being rather strange that people can get so concerned about helping others, when there is such an obvious need right next to them. Oh, I suppose that’s the way we are, isn’t it? Paul is telling us to wake up and to look around, because every day holds opportunities for us to pay this debt. If we wake up, we can begin to see them.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome