How Big is Your Debt?

Seems like a very personal question that most people would rather keep to themselves. Truth is when it comes to overall household debt in Canada, it’s becoming a bigger problem than most people realize. In 1980, the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income was 66%; and yet recently that ratio has passed the 150% figure (Statistics Canada 2011). This means that, on average, households owed more than $1.50 for every dollar of disposable income.And yet for many Canadians, this figures is not only unknown to them, for many families, they honestly don’t care. What’s the big deal, I’ll take care of it, “one day.” You know, in bringing this issue up, I’m actually not wanting to talk (or type in this case) about personal financial debt, but actually the, “spiritual debt” that we owe God. It’s a fact that most people in our society, and even in the church are unaware of how much they owe God. In fact for most, they would actually feel that they owe God very little when it comes to their lives. They appreciate the “fringe benefits” of God’s presence, (i.e., food to each, air to breath and our lives to live), but in understanding what they actually owe God, for many it is completely, “off the radar.” In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus gives us a parable about a man whose debt was forgiven by his master. Jesus shares this parable after his disciple Peter asks Jesus in verse 21, “How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”And of course Jesus gives that infamous response, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Or in another translation, “seventy times seven.”  In actuality, in giving his statement of, “forgiving someone seven times,” Peter was actually thinking that forgiving someone seven times was pretty generous. After all, anything more than that, would almost make you seem very naïve. In hearing Peter’s response, Jesus quickly understood that Peter (and all of us for that matter) needed a true lesson on the depth of our debt toward God. The truth is, when we do begin to have somewhat of an understanding of how great our debt is towards God, and how great his love is in order to forgive that debt, it enables us to blow right past that “forgiving seven times”mark and choose to love others even when their offenses are continual. In this story, the Master (God) is settling his accounts and discovers that this one servant owes him ten thousand talents. Today it would be equivalent to over a few million, (either Canadian or American dollars, it’s still a lot of cash). The story goes that because the Master was going to sell the servants family in order to pay back the debt, the servant begged and pleaded for mercy,  in which the Master chose to not only not sell his family, but to actually forgive his debt in full. Yet, after being the recipient of this great blessing, Jesus says that this forgiven servant, quickly goes out and finds an individual who owed him a hundred denarii, the equivalent of apporximately $5.00.                                                                                                                                                           Verses28-30say;                                                                                                                                               “He grabbed him and began to choke him, “Pay back what you owe me!”  he demanded. His fellow servant bell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.”  But he refused. Instead he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.”                                                                                                                                                                 Do you think it’s safe to say that this wicked servant who was forgiven so much by his master, really had no clue how much he initially owned? Is it possible that he just brushed it off as really, “no big deal” and that when it was graciously forgiven, he really couldn’t comprehend how big his debt was in the first place? I believe that is the biggest problem with the Church and forgiveness today. We really can’t comprehend how much we owe God. Fact is that anyone who is in hell right now, will be there till they can pay God back for what they owe Him, and that going to take eternity because none of us can ever pay God for our sins. Yet the opposite is also true, that it’s going to take all eternity in heaven to thank God for the cancelled debt of our sins that he provided for us and we accepted! In order for this master to forgive his servant, he had to be willing to cancel a debt where he would lose millions of dollars. In the same way, God had to make the choice to make a huge sacrifice to have our debt cancelled and that being the death of his own son. And yet just like that ungrateful, wicked servant, somehow, we feel we have the right to hold on to unforgiveness and resentment when we have been forgiven of so much by our master. In the end, that forgiven servant had his debt reissued to him. He was placed into prison until his debt with his master was completely paid off. And last time I check, the pay in prison is not all that great. Definitely not enough to pay off millions of dollars. He was there for life.  And so the question is, “How big is your debt?”Well I pray that all of us will never forget that it was so big, that the only way that we could ever be free from our debt of sin was to allow God to take it from you and nail it to the cross. Never forget how much God has forgiven you, because with God’s help  this reality will always help you have room to forgive what other have done against you.