Links Daily Devotional

The Never-ending Debt

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another… (Romans 13:8, NIV)

If you belong to a local country club, the monthly invoice you receive from the secretary is likely one of many financial obligations you are expected to meet each month. You may also have a mortgage, a business loan, and a car payment. The city and the power company want money for their utilities, and if you use a charge card for your groceries and dining and clothing, you have that debt to pay.

I know, I know, thanks for reminding you…

Debt, actually, is on many people’s minds these days. The average Chinese citizen saves between 25 and 50 percent of his or her personal income (the numbers do vary quite a bit depending on the study). But in North America, where the surveys are more consistent, the average American or Canadian saves less than four percent. The average Scandinavian spends more than he or she earns—ouch!

Not only are many Westerners personally indebted, but our governments carry multiplying obligations—often to one another. Frankly, we need to get our act together, starting at the top.

This is not a new idea, nor a political statement. The apostle Paul exhorted the Roman believers to the same personal and civic responsibility two millennia ago. What kind of statement does it make in society, Paul asked, if the followers of Jesus—whose character should be impeccable—are known as people who don’t keep their promises, including their promises to pay what they owe?

So take care of basics, Paul said. Pay what you owe.

Beyond that, however, Paul wrote of a debt that would never end—a recurring bill, we might say. It is the debt of love to one another.

Always, the apostles emphasized love. Why not? The gospel was birthed in love: “For God so loved that He gave…” From the moment of Adam’s sin, God’s love compelled Him to lay out a course for our salvation.

Now we follow His lead. We see on the pages of Scripture and know with assurance in our hearts that Jesus loved us so much that He pushed through every painful obstacle to purchase our salvation. Now we are to love with similar obligation. As those who reflect Christ, we want especially to show the people around us His amazing love.

It has been said, “You are the only Jesus some people will ever know.” I hope not! I hope they come to meet the Jesus, the only One who can save. But I may indeed be the only one whose love reflects brightly enough that a needy soul can discover who Jesus is in me. That’s the debt of love we owe, the ongoing need to pay out the love that Jesus pours into us.

Jeff Hopper

August 8, 2011

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