Balance Your Books

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Balance Your Books

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No, this is not another story about how to save money each payday or even how to pay off all your credit card debt in 6 easy payments if you just buy this “Debt-Reduction” software package. This is about another kind of debt that shows up on spread sheets the world over.

I was waiting at the airport for a flight not long ago. While waiting I began thumbing through a magazine that reminded me I may be in debt, more debt than I knew.

Please allow me to get to the point by quoting from Romans 13:8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law”. I need to explain my point now; this scripture is not about money. This scripture is about debts I may owe to my friends, my neighbors, my brethren and my family. There is certainly more to consider in the whole verse we know as Romans 13:8, but I would like to ask you to just stop for a moment.

Stop your thoughts at just the first 4 words; “owe no one anything”. We just read a thought the Apostle Paul was inspired to write that said -- I am not to owe anyone anything. What is the point of those 4 words, “owe no one anything?” This is what caught my attention as I waited at the airport for the connecting flight, those 4 words.

Those 4 words are about committed Christian integrity. Those words are about honest healthy relationships with those we come into contact with every day. We all have most likely heard the phrase Christ used; “to love our neighbors as ourselves”. But how does that apply to me owing someone something? Am I, and are you, in debt to another? Please stop for a moment with me and look deeper at those 4 words. God is asking us to look at our relationship spread sheet and see if we have debts we have not paid.

Let’s see what debts we may need to consider as we review the words out of Romans 13:8. We may likely owe someone a payment if we stop and open our heart for a moment. Who might we need to consider and what debts might we legitimately owe another person in this life? As we think about those 4 words, we might begin to feel that we have some unpaid bills in our relationships; some long overdue.

Displaying the Christian Heart

Are you able to say you are sorry and mean it? The Christian heart should sincerely consider relationship debts in life. Something to consider about relationship debts though, most often you will not find a person you have offended banging on your door or sending you streaming red-lettered debt notices in the mail. Most likely for you and me debts of offense reveal themselves in other forms.  One of those ways is a form method we all know as “the silent treatment”.

Speaking of the silent treatment -- would you be modest enough to ask your wife or husband or child if you need to apologize or will you just wait out their silence? You may not even be sure in your heart you owe them an apology, but because you may owe them one, are you willing to ask? Out of love for them, are you willing to extend your hand and be the first to say that you are sorry? Your payment book may be stamped, “overdue” in red ink.

There are other moments in our life that should display the Christian heart. Our responsibilities in loving those around us go beyond just keeping the Ten Commandments in our homes and hearts. Those moments show up in how we treat one another. This is what Paul is addressing in those 4 words. We may be in debt and we may not want to face our creditors. Our relationship debts to others may show up in the form of silent family members, friends who keep their distance, or we may find we have feelings of regret or even loneliness. The debts are real and can begin to accrue unwanted interest.

The take-away message from the Book of James

The Apostle James was inspired to write this in part of James 5:16, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed”. The power of confession to someone we have hurt is evident in the healing it brings to us too.

Some other unpaid debts we may need to consider in our relationships?

If you owe a phone call, you should make it now.

If you owe an explanation, you need to offer an explanation to that person now.

If you see on your debt sheet you owe an apology, decide to make that apology now.

If you owe a thank you, give it now.

If you owe your family or neighbor or your enemy your time and attention, give it now.

We can also see in Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so”.  For God our Father desires us to act now, in the moment, as the debt falls due, as it were.  Be ready and willing to do the right thing, for none of us knows how long we may have in this lifetime.  We just cannot take anything for granted or when it suits us.

It is time to get out of debt and owe no one anything, except to love one another.

How about it, shall we, you and I, balance the books?

For more information, read our helpful study aid “Marriage and Family - The Missing Dimension