«Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law» (Romans 13:8).
WE LIVE in a time of debt. People, families, institutions, and even countries are indebted. It is said that human beings have three nerve centers: the brain, the heart and the pocket! We usually get more restless when they touch our pocket than when the brain and heart are at stake, right? In our text for today, Paul did not say that we should not borrow money; he said that if you owe something, you must pay it. Sometimes the debt is legitimate, and it is used to supply real needs. Other debts could have been avoided.
«Many people spend money they have not earned to buy things they do not want, to impress people they do not like,» said Will Smith, ironically. And so it is. Debts create additional complications. For example, many relationships between family and friends have been affected by debts. As Seneca said, «a small sum of borrowed money makes a debtor, but a large one, an enemy.»
The Bible challenges us to avoid greed and materialism; to plan ahead, save, and learn to be content (Phil. 4:11). However, beyond every intention and habit of being careful, there may be situations that make it necessary to go into debt. Not having debts would be the best way to avoid defaults, but if debts exist, Paul recommends that they be cancelled as soon as possible.
Ellen G. White also advised us of the following: «The very highest kind of education that could be given is to shun the incurring of debt as you would shun disease» (Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 469). She adds that we can live in harmony with our income, keep expenses within those limits, learn to economize, flee from selfish complacency, avoid ostentation, not spend on unnecessary things, and not use debts as an excuse to stop being faithful in returning tithes or being generous with offerings.
When Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the multitude, in addition to loving them, He taught them a lesson in economics. He told the disciples to gather up the leftovers so nothing would be wasted (John 6:13).
Christians may be able to pay all their debts, but Paul assures us that there is one they will never be able to pay: loving their neighbor in response to the love they have received from Jesus. This is an obligation that will never be settled as long as there is a neighbor to love.
May God help you today to pay off all your debts accepts one, since
«the debt of money and the debt of gratitude are different things» (Cicero).
Debts of money are paid, but loving your neighbor as an expression of gratitude to God lasts your whole life.