Living Uncomplicated Lives that Are Not Entangled in the World (Sat August 6)

The word of the day is “owe.”  In today’s reading of Romans 13:1-10, St. Paul speaks of the believer’s duty to the government.  He writes that we are to be subject to its secular authority, for God has appointed it.  By it, the Almighty orders the world for its good (Romans 13:1-4).

However, elsewhere, St. Paul said that we are citizens of another Kingdom.  He wrote in Philippians that “… our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20a).  And in Ephesians, the Apostle wrote, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).  Today we will answer the question that if we are subjects of the heavenly Kingdom, why should we be concerned about our duty to the governments of this world?

Avoid Entanglement with the World

The answer to today’s question comes in verse 8: “Owe no one anything except to love one another…” (vs. 8).  To owe is to be a debtor and to have an obligation to pay the debt.  St. Paul is concerned about such attachments to the powers of this passing world. St. Paul desires the freedom of his flock to give undivided devotion to the Lord.  Thus, as far as it is possible, they should avoid the obligations of debts that would tie them down to the affairs of this world.  In 1 Corinthians 7, St. Paul advises that celibacy is better than marriage because it enables one “to serve the Lord without distraction” (1 Cor. 7:35).  Likewise, they should be sure to pay their dues to the government because refusing to pay taxes would further entangle them in earthly matters.

Live an Uncomplicated Life

Paul would have believers live uncomplicated and straightforward lives.  In the preceding chapter, St. Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peacefully with all men” (Romans 12:18). To be free to devote oneself to the Lord and His Kingdom, we should owe only one thing (vs. 8).  We should accept the obligation to love one another (vs. 8).

For Reflection

The kind of love that St. Paul refers to here is the self-giving, sacrificial love of God shown in the cross of Christ and given to us to share with others.  This love is the highest law of the Kingdom in which we have our actual citizenship.  And since it harms no one but helps everyone (vs. 10), and no government in the world can object to it.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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