Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
I read a Canadian newspaper article that explained how difficult it is for elite amateur athletes in Canada to get by financially. Carded athletes’ average income was around $30,000 in 2008, but their average expenses were about $40,000 per year. Without assistance from friends or family this is obviously not sustainable and not surprisingly 1 in 4 athletes say that they have incurred some level of personal debt in pursuit of their athletic career. The average Canadian athlete at the time reported that they were in debt by just under $8,000. An updated study in 2014 showed that the deficit of amateur athletes had increased by 170%, and that number has surely continued to rise through to today.
Being in debt is obviously not a healthy concept for an athlete or anyone else. In fact, there are many verses in the Bible which warn against indebtedness. Proverbs 22:7 says: “the rich rules over the poor. And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave”. And Paul says, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8).
But if you read the scriptures fully you will see an exception to this rule; in fact, Paul calls himself a debtor in today’s key verse. Paul calls himself a “debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise” (Romans 1:14). If you study Paul’s letters more fully you see that he is actually indebted to Jesus and owes it to him to preach the Good News to all mankind.
In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth he says: 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20). Ironically, where the Proverbs warn that “the borrower becomes the lender’s slave”, Paul says that this is exactly what happens to believers when we accept Jesus as our personal saviour. At that time, we are no longer our own since we have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus and we are indebted to him.
It is healthy for us as believers to embrace this concept of being debtors to Jesus. It is human nature to become comfortable, to feel entitled, and in response, our communications to God are essentially one-sided, constantly asking him to give us things, and of course complaining when we don’t get them. If we change our attitude and recognize we are indebted to Jesus, then our prayers become very different – suddenly we begin to ask God what we can do for Him rather than what He can do for us.
If you read the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18: 21-27), you see a man who owed a great sum of money to the King, an uncollectable amount. The King had mercy on him and canceled the debt. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and the penalty for that sin is separation from a perfect God (Romans 6:23). But God sent his son to the earth to pay that penalty for sin (Galatians 1:4), and he offers us eternal life with him (John 10: 28-30). All we need to do is recognize our sin, repent and receive this free gift of God (John 1:12). We are indebted to Christ. I am indebted to my savior. Does my life reflect a mature Christian who is indebted to Christ, or am I an entitled child? Lord, forgive me where it is the latter.