Summary: The true ‘bottom line’ isn’t going to be found at the end of a company ledger, or a balance s
Romans: The Line in the Sand (Series)
Message Title: The Bottom Line
Scripture: Romans 1:13-15
13 And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Over the course of the last two weeks, there has been a small story going on in the newspapers. In the beginning, the story seemed to be one of rejoicing. Yet, as the story unfolded, it took on a different twist. Maybe you know the story. The story of the “Dead Canoeist” that claimed he didn’t remember where he had been for the last several years. He showed up at a police station in the United Kingdom saying, “I believe I may be a missing person.” And, you may know the rest of the story.
The rest of the story is how he and his wife concocted a plan to fake his death, get the insurance money, and move to Panama. What’s the bottom line? What was the reason for such an elaborate scheme? A headline in the online U.K. daily newspaper, The Telegraph, tells it all…
’Dead’ canoeist’s wife: “We were in debt”
Anne Darwin, 55, claimed that her husband planned his disappearing act at the beginning of 2002 to escape tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt from a failing property portfolio.
Yet this is not the end of the story or stories like it for there have been many other people that have attempted similar plans, and, I’m sure, there are just as many that have succeeded. Additionally, all through history, and in the Bible, you can read about various people being thrown into debtor’s prisons because they were unable to pay their debts. Societies around the world have come up with various ways to punish those that are either unable to pay their debts, or, like the Darwin’s, come up with some plan to try and fool their creditors.
In the days of the Mosaic Law, those who fell into debt and were unable to pay were bound over to their creditor in a slavery that lasted until the year of freedom determined according to the law. If you were to read through history books, you would find out that ‘debtor’s prisons’ were very common up into the nineteenth century. In the U.S. there are laws that permit creditors to take a debtor’s belongings, even without asking, and either resell them or claim them for their own. The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t even have to prove that you owe them money to take money from your paycheck.
How are we supposed to act when others are in debt to us?
The Bible says specifically, Matthew 18
23 "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. ’Be patient with me,’ he begged, ’and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ’Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ’Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 "Then the master called the servant in. ’You wicked servant,’ he said, ’I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
Now with all of that we’ve said about material debt, and with all that people have done, both past and present, to collect on past due accounts on material possessions, what do you think should be our obligation as debtors in spiritual matters? First of all, did you know that we are all in debt spiritually? Did you know that when we became Christians, we all plunged into debt from that moment on to every person in the world? Especially to those that have yet to hear the Word of God?