The other day, I retrieved my monthly budget excel folder. I keep a log of all of my financial obligations. I list what I bring in and how much is going out to those I owe and what I am able to save or invest for that proverbial “rainy day”. It helps me to maintain a handle on what must be done, what I should prioritize and focus on. No one desires to be in debt. All of us would like the experience of being “debt” free. While I was looking at my natural budget file, the thought occurred to me, what does your budget folder look like, spiritually? How much debt have you incurred? Who and what do you owe? To owe some one is to be in debt, or even more sinister it means to “be bound to”. Think about it, when you are in debt to someone or something, you are bound and even in part a slave to that which you owe.
Just like I recognize my natural debts, what does my spiritual debts look like? Am I being diligent in this responsibility or am I accruing late charges and interest? In my personal budget folder I categorize my file into two categories, “one time pay offs” (ie. medical bills, furniture, clothing, repair expenses, credit cards, etc.) and “on going and revolving” (ie. food, gas, credit cards, car payments, insurance, mortgage, utilities, rent, etc.). Spiritually what expenses are in my two files? Wait… there not two files, only one. It is “on going and revolving”. All of my debt can be placed under this category. What are some of the expenses found in my spiritual file? Well, I owe you prayer, I owe you a smile, I owe you a shoulder to cry on, I owe you the gifts and calling on my life, the poem inside of me, the song, message, book, play, compassion, listen ear, a safe harbor, encouragement, recognition and validation. These are just a few, BUT they are not just my expenses, they are yours also. You owe the world the same.
The Bible says in Romans 13:8 to “owe no man anything, but to love one another”. So let’s call this one category “Love/ Forgiveness”. Why is forgiveness mentioned in this category? In order to truly love there must be perpetual forgiveness. The need to pay on our personal forgiveness expense is huge. There is a need to forgive the past and even present hurts that we have buried and tried to ignore but not forgiven. The old relationships, friends, parents, ministries, the ex’s, the ones that just walked away without any explanation or goodbye. Oh here is one we do not like to confess that is on our expense docket. We need to forgive…wait for it… GOD! I was talking to my wife on just yesterday and she was telling me about a friend’s 10-year-old son who is very mad at God because for over a year, the boy has been praying to God to heal his father who had a stroke and God has not done it. I told my wife that if I would have conversation with that young man, I would say that it understandable and okay. God is not upset with you for how you feel. In fact, (a confession)… even in my fifties, I have been angry and mad at God and needed to “forgive” Him. Do not look at me funny, be honest…you have felt the same way. There has been many times when God in our own estimation, disappointed us and let us down. Understand it is really not the person or persons you are forgiving, it is the perceived (real or imaginary, intentional or unintentional) offense you are forgiving. Many times an individual have no idea that you are harboring that debt.
In order to “owe love only” we must first realize the definition of “forgiveness”. It means to “abandon, forsaken, to let die, leave destitute and irretrievably broken”. We cannot truly realize Romans 13:8 unless we handcuff love to forgiveness. We cannot obtain the “new” if we are still in debt, bound and enslaved to the old. The latter part of Romans 6:4 reads “…even so we also should walk in newness of life”, so through what the Father did through the sacrifice of His Son we have access to the “new”. Understand not only did Jesus take our sin, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he who had not known sin made himself to become sin in your place”. AWESOME SAUCE! We are no longer bound to the penalty and power of sin. God, the Father “forgave” abandon, forsaken, let die, left destitute and irretrievably broken, the offense, the sin (noun). JESUS! (read 2 Corinthians 5:21 again) Did not Jesus cry from the cross, “Father why have you FORSAKEN me? (just something to think on
We too can pay our debt of love, through our resolve to forgive, freeing ourselves from what has us shackled, enslaved and obligated to the pain, memories and power of past and even present offenses. Paying this debt is a conscious effort, especially in the beginning. Just as in the natural it must be planned and purposed. It just does not happen through mere happenstance. How much better our world would be if every man, woman, boy and girl began to make payment on their debt of love and forgiveness. Would we see so much conflict in our world? Would there have been and continue to be the countless numbers of wars where nations are against nations, tribes against tribes, races against races, brother against brother? Would those who espouse different religious beliefs treat each other so inhumanely understanding God have given all men free will and choice? Would there be the crisis in Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and countless other locations that have not been in the international spotlight? When will we pay on this “Love/Forgiveness” bill? I did write “we” didn’t I? Well anyway… let me pull out my checkbook! I am late with my payment. Not to just Christians or Americans… but to the world! “For God so love the WORLD that He “FOR” gave His only begotten Son…”