Summary: In God's economy we let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another.
Title: Good Debt
Text: Romans 13:8-14
Thesis: In God’s economy we let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another.
Debt is a hot-button topic these days. The Urban Dictionary defines debt this way: “What America is in a lot of.” The UD also refers to debt as a modern day form of slavery and a “debtaholic” is a person who exhibits an unhealthy habit of accumulating bad debt. And those of us who have experienced the effects of the collapsing real estate market may have “debtquity.” Debtquity is the opposite of equity and means you are upside down in your house or owe more on your house that its current market value.
We are all familiar with the terms “good debt” and “bad debt.” Good debt is borrowing for necessities and those things believed to be assets that will appreciate in value. Financial advisors may include things like a home mortgage or an education because in the long-term they appreciate and result in a positive financial position. Bad debt is borrowing for things that are not necessary and depreciate in value. Most credit card debt falls into this category.
USA Today ran a story in July, Boom times for pawnshops – and for pawnshop TV. Pawnshops have been around for a long time and have at various times in the history of the economy have played a legitimate role for people who have nowhere else to turn for a few bucks to get by.
Pawn Stars on the History Channel features a more upscale pawnshop in Las Vegas and Hardcore Pawn features the largest pawnshop in Detroit and caters to a more desperate clientele and airs on truTV. Both are in their fourth seasons and both garner the top viewing audiences on their respective cable channels. (www.usatoday.com/LIFE/usedition/2011-07-28-Pawn-shop-cover_CV_U.htm)
If you visit any pawnshop you see an astounding array of high-ticket items purchased on credit and pawned for a fraction of their value. A $5,000 wedding ring is pawned for $900. A $600 digital camera is pawned for $50. Anything Apple pawns at around 1/3 or less of its original purchase price.
We all understand the concept of desperate times calling for desperate measures and any one of us will do whatever is necessary to feed our children… But we all also understand that our ability to feed our children and secure the necessities of life are greatly enhanced when we observe the rules about good and bad debt.
Debts have to be paid.
In examining out text today we see that Romans 13 is a conversation about debt and paying our obligations.
I. The follower of Christ retires outstanding obligations… including taxes.
Give everyone what you owe: If taxes, pay taxes; if respect, then respect… Romans 13:7
Paul’s instruction regarding the paying of outstanding debts and taxes is couched in the context of the Christian’s obligations to governing authorities. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels is rebelling against what God has instituted… Give everyone what you owe. Romans 13:1-2 and 7
The bible speaks clearly regarding how Christians are to live with existing civil powers.
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God…” I Timothy 2:1-3
Remind people to be subject to rulers, authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show humility toward all men. Titus 3
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to kings, as the supreme authority, or to governors… Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for doing evil; live as servants of God. Show respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor kings… I Peter 2:13-17
According to our text Christ’s followers have two options: Option one is to submit to the government. Option two is to rebel against the government. However, our text suggests two reasons why honoring one’s government is preferable to rebelling against it. One compelling reason is to avoid punishment and the other is for the sake of one’s conscience. (Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. Romans 13:5)
It is important to keep in mind that this was written to Christians who were not exactly living during the best of times. They were subjects of the Roman government or the Roman Empire.