LEA Weekly Devotional
2008–2009 series: Red-Letter Days
September 9, 2008
Extended Reading: Romans 13:1–10
“Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along” (Romans 13:8 MSG).
At least half the workers in the U.S. suffer stress from financial problems. (It is unclear which half—probably the half housing the wallet or suspending the purse.) Financial problems are a major cause of divorce. One need only watch the stock market, which, reacting to mere morsels of menace plummet to frightening lows and cause blood pressures to skyrocket. Ironically, more money does not solve financial anxiety.
Church workers are all too familiar with debt. The mismatch between church-work salaries and cost-of-living invites debt. The disparity between salaries and desires is even greater. Debt management is a serious problem. And it is almost impossible to live without some kind of debt, especially if you drive a car or live in a house. Or maybe even buy groceries.
Paul’s letter to Roman Christians remains relevant. But it’s about a whole lot more than financial wisdom. Paul wants us actually to run wild with debt. Of course, he isn’t talking about your Visa card. He speaks of the “debt of love you owe each other.” So even if you imagine yourself debt free, you still owe a lot.
Your original owner was Satan. You’re doubly blessed if you don’t remember those days. Then again, maybe not. If you don’t remember what you once were, you may not fully appreciate what you now are. Whatever the case, Jesus purchased you from the threshold of hell, as you confess in the meaning to the Second Article of the Apostles Creed. You know the price tag on that purchase. It was no, ahem, fire sale. You went full price.
Now you’re in debt up to the climax of your cranium (north of your ears by several inches and probably hidden under some brush). And this has lifetime implications.
How in the world—or out of it—can you repay your debt for salvation? You are blessed if you know you can’t do it and have no inclination to free yourself and earn your own “paid in full” receipt. Jesus doesn’t keep books. But He does want interest—interest in loving service to others.
By virtue of your vocation, you’re blessed with a convenient payment plan. The students and others that you serve regularly are among those God’s sent to collect your love. They will keep coming, and you will keep loving, and you’ll not make a dent in the debt!
That’s a good thing. You don’t have to keep books either.
Written by Edward Grube, LL.D.
Director of Publications & Communications
© 2008 Lutheran Education Association
Scripture quotations identified as MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
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