The Only Good Debt

Romans 1:  14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

I read a Canadian newspaper article that explained how difficult it is for elite amateur athletes in Canada to get by financially.  Carded athletes’ average income was around $30,000 in 2008, but their average expenses were about $40,000 per year.  Without assistance from friends or family this is obviously not sustainable and not surprisingly 1 in 4 athletes say that they have incurred some level of personal debt in pursuit of their athletic career.  The average Canadian athlete at that time reported that they were in debt by just under $8,000.

Being in debt is obviously not a healthy concept for an athlete or anyone else.  In fact there are many verses in the Bible which warn against indebtedness.  Proverbs 22:7 says:  “the rich rules over the poor.  And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave”.  And Paul says “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

But if you read the scriptures fully you will see an exception to this rule and in fact Paul himself in today’s key verse calls himself a debtor.  Paul says he is a “debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise” (Rom 1:14).  If you study Paul’s letters more fully you see that he is actually indebted to Jesus and owes it to Him to preach the Good News to all mankind.

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth he says: 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Cor 6: 19-20).  So ironically where the Proverbs warn that “the borrower becomes the lender’s slave”, Paul says that this is exactly what happens to believers when we accept Jesus as our personal saviour.  At that time we are no longer our own since we have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus and we are indebted to him.

It is healthy for us as believers to embrace this concept of being debtors to Jesus.  It is human nature to become comfortable, to feel entitled, and in response our communications to God are one-sided, constantly asking Him to give us things and of course complaining when we don’t get them.  If we change our attitude and recognize we are indebted to Jesus then our prayers become very different – suddenly we begin to ask God what we can do for Him rather than what He can do for us.  This is true Christian maturity.

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