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Effective Stewardship – Month #16

God expects us to pay our debts.

“The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,

but the righteous are generous and keep giving” (Psalm 37:21).


The Scripture does not forbid debt or borrowing. Nor does it in any way encourage us to borrow or to go into debt. In fact, debt in the Bible is frequently referred to in a negative connotation.

But the Bible is very clear in describing how we should deal with debt. Simply stated, we are to pay our debts. Psalm 37:21 uses an old-fashioned word to describe borrowing money or creating a debt and then failing to repay it. The Psalmist describes such behavior as “wicked.”

One of the most important questions to ask when considering creating a debt is whether or not we have the ability to repay it. To go into debt without the ability to repay or a plan for repayment is actually presuming upon the grace and goodness of God.

Honesty and integrity — especially concerning our debts — should be the hallmark of every Christian. How we handle our financial obligations can and does speak volumes to our family, friends, and business associates. There is simply no way we can expect to receive God’s full hand of blessing in our lives when we have failed to show His love to others by paying what we owe them. That’s why the Psalmist added this striking contrast to his description of the wicked man who borrows and fails to repay: “ . . . the righteous are generous and keep giving.”

In his instructions to Christians at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul urged them to walk in an honest manner, especially with respect to those outside the church. When we pay our debts, when we live lives marked by integrity and honesty, then we literally fulfill Matthew 5:16. Our good works (including paying our debts) shine as lights in the world, which men see and in turn glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Or as Larry Burkett put it, “Money merely reflects to the outside world what is going on inside each of us.” And that is nowhere more apparent than in how we deal with our debts.

Annie Johnson Flint wrote:

            Christ has no hands but our hands

                        To do His work today;

            He has no feet but our feet

                        To lead men in His way;

            He has no tongue but our tongues

                        To tell men how He died;

            He has no help but our help

                        To bring them to His side.

            We are the only Bible

                        The careless world will read;

            We are the sinner’s Gospel,

                        We are the scoffer’s creed;

            We are the Lord’s last message

                        Written in deed and word.

            What if the line is crooked?

                        What if the type is blurred.

John Wesley summed it up this way: “Earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can.”

As you give to the ministry here at Central United Methodist Church this morning, is your giving to God in any way in conflict with how you pay your bills?

Or, stated another way, do people know you’re a child of God by how you handle your debts?

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