Bread – Debt

November 19, 2012


Readings for Monday, November 19, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Hab. 2:1-4,9-20; James 2:14-26; Luke 16:19-31; Psalm 89

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There is much discussion in political and social circles about the amount of debt being carried by the nations of the world, including the United States. Although everyone “knows” that debt is generally bad, it seems like we are in a stupor about the debt itself.

Well, the prophet Habakkuk is not in a stupor about debt; he knows exactly how bad it is. From our reading today, Habakkuk says: “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own – for how long? – and loads himself with pledges! Will not your [creditors]* suddenly arise, and those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you…” Hab. 2:6b-8a.

If your wealth is built on borrowed money, it is fleeting wealth because the creditor will come one day and claim the debt, taking your assets as payment.

There are reasons other than avoiding the negative which we have for having surplus instead of debt. Our reading in James today reminds us that faith without works is dead. Among the works identified is charity toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. James asks, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:15-17

Where are the resources to come from to so bless our brothers and sisters? In our secular, government mind-set, it comes from borrowing from others, either by actually borrowing the money or by taking it from people through taxation. In our Christian walk, we are to do good works from the blessings God has given us, not those blessings He has given to others. As Christians, we clothe and feed our brothers and sisters in Christ, not the wealth of others, but from the riches God has given us.

This week is Thanksgiving. Let us rejoice in the love that God has shown us by exercising our faith in good works; let us rejoice in the love that God has shown us through His people by accepting and taking graciously those gifts of clothing, of food, of housing, of caring, of attention, of love, which His people bestow upon us. But let us do it the right way, from God through the people of God to the people of God, using the resources which God has given us and not the resources which God has given others. In so doing, we honor God. In so doing, we act like the people of God. In so doing, we exercise our faith. In so doing, we love.

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*The ESV actually translates this “debtors,” but this appears to be improper in context. The NASB and NKJ translates this “creditors.” The NIV indicates that it could be either. Since it is your creditors to whom you owe money, it seems that in context the word “creditors” is better translated here.

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© 2012 GBF

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