32 “If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, why should you be commended? Even sinners do that. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full. 35 Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. 36 Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
“How much do I owe you?” is a common question we hear when asking about the price of something. Whenever my Dad thought we may have paid too much, he then offered the proverbial, “Well, that must have cost you an arm and a leg!”
As a child, I probably thought, “What a strange cost!“
So how much do I owe you, Jesus? God didn’t demand repayment, or say that I had to be more grateful or to pay more for my misdeeds. We can never repay the debt, and thankfully, God doesn’t demand that we do! Instead, Jesus paid the ultimate price for us without expecting anything in return. In the name of love, God’s grace was and is freely given.
As for human beings, it is often the typical experience for people to want a world that evens the score, in debts and otherwise. However, this is counting on a theology of score keeping and revenge, in which people who have done wrong will “get what’s coming to them.” As Methodists, we just don’t believe in this type of divine retribution.
We believe in God whose goodness and grace is offered to us without cost. Despite us never being able to repay the debt, Jesus literally gave his earthly life. Much more than just an “arm and a leg,” God doesn’t require us to repay the debt. We are God’s children. Whatever our wrongs, whatever the cost to us and the lives around us, when we ask for forgiveness and seek to be in a relationship with our Lord, God’s mercy is there for us. All our debts are paid in full. Imagine that!
“So how much do we owe you, God?”
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
We will never be able to repay the debt to our Lord. But in a world that wants score keeping, we can easily fall into the trap of always looking to be repaid for whatever we offer to one another. Yet, how do we show God’s mercy to those we encounter each day?
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for paying the debt of my life. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Even though I can never fully repay your goodness to me, help me show grace and mercy to all those around me in your good name. Amen.