Suggested Reading: Proverbs 3:27-28
When we owe someone something, God desires that we keep our word and pay whatever we owe, if we have the power to do so. “Those who deserve it,” may refer to our creditors. Don’t unduly withhold from people what is rightfully theirs and tell them you’ll pay it later when you have it with you now.Pay what you owe on time.
Jesus said, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘yes’; and your ‘No’, ‘no’. Anything else comes from the evil one.” When we try to convince ourselves that we don’t have to pay back our debts, we are being plagued by the evil one. He wants us to lose the respect of our neighbour by becoming the kind of people who don’t keep our word and who don’t deliver on our promises. When we are known to be untrustworthy, we are not only damaging our own names, but also the Name of the Lord, since we claim to be His.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” These words of Jesus should always be at the forefront of every decision we make. We cannot claim that He is our Lord and then ignore His instructions. When faced with decisions that may potentially put us on the back foot from our perspective, that is precisely the time when it becomes really challenging to obey our Lord. Will we do what our Lord commanded, or will we look out for our own advantage?
The Bible says that those who claim to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. Jesus even paid debts He didn’t owe. There is an incident recorded in Matthew where Peter was confronted by temple tax collectors who wanted to know from him if Jesus didn’t pay temple tax. Peter quickly responded in the affirmative. When Peter arrived home, Jesus taught him by way of an analogy that they are exempt from temple taxes, but that they will pay it in order not to offend anyone (Matthew 17:27). Jesus paid temple tax although the whole of heaven and earth belonged to Him. Considering our Lord’s example, what stops us from paying others what is rightfully due to them?
“Give to everyone what you owe them… and let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another,” wrote Paul to the Christians in Rome. We love our neighbour by paying him what we said we will pay him, since by doing that we are obeying the golden rule to do unto others as we would have to do unto us. We would like to be paid what others owe us. We should therefore do the same for them. God accepts our love for Him only as far as we love our neighbour (1 John 4:20-21). When someone lends us money, he does so by trusting that we will make good on our promise to repay. Finding ways to get out of such an obligation comes not from God, says Jesus, but from the evil one.
Moreover, Jesus taught, we cannot take what we owe others and give it to God. That is disobeying the commandment to love our neighbour. Jesus rebuked the church leaders about this in Mark 7:9-13. When we owe someone money, the money is technically speaking no longer ours. When we give such money to God, we are then giving stolen money (it belongs to another) and bringing it to God as a gift. God will not accept such a gift. Paul teaches that a man should give according to what he has and not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:12). We cannot, therefore, hide behind religion to escape our obligation to repay our debts.
27. Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
28. Do not say to your neighbour, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow” –when you now have it with you.
- The Young and the Rich (christianweeklydevotional.wordpress.com)