Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
One of the hardest things for me here in Singapore has been to receive. When I first arrived, I received the care and assistance of current students and, especially, student council members who were always on hand to help all of us international students settle in. As I got settled in my church, the church women started giving me things, like clothing items or sometimes groceries or sweets, for no apparent reason. I got the same kind of treatment from one of my classmates, Yit Wah, who would do the same. It was awkward and foreign and strange. I had to ask my friend Trudy about it and she said it was because I was a student far from home: they were taking care of me on behalf of my family.
Today, after church, I was invited to dinner by a church family. We dined at the British Club of Singapore, which felt far more elegant and ritzy than I am used to, and in addition to that, they even bought me a gift from the gift store. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and, again, lost as to how to respond.
In American culture, where equality is so prized and defended, it can be difficult to receive such things without feeling a sense of obligation or debt. You now owe them something, and we feel off balance and in relational deficit until we have the chance to pay them back in some way.
One thing that God has been speaking to me my entire time here is “There are no debts in the body of Christ”. Over and over again He has said it, especially as I struggle to gratefully and humbly receive love that I have not earned and cannot repay. There are no debts in the Body of Christ. We just love.
Tonight I realized this in a new way. I came home from the sumptuous dinner and placed the gifts of the evening on my bed: a new bath towel from the host family, a package of cookies from a woman at church, and a coconut beverage from one of my youth group ladies. About an hour later, a friend came in and handed me a draft of the paper she’s working on so that I could edit this. I’ve been doing this for her and a few other students throughout the semester, wielding my red pen of power against grammatical errors and smoothing out the English in places.
And it all suddenly made sense. There are no debts in the Body of Christ. I love them by editing their papers and defining words or explaining difficult textbook passages. And the people at church love me by helping meet my basic needs both for food and company. Everything is paid back into the Body of Christ. It’s like perpetual motion. The love just keeps going.
So it is true, there are no debts in the Body of Christ. We are only to give and to receive in the fabulous freedom of the family of God.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8