Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 123; 146, Judges 18:1-15, Acts 8:1-13, John 5:30-47
After St. Stephen was martyred by leaders of a temple in Jerusalem, the eighth chapter of Acts tells us Saul – who would later become Saint Paul – stood watching and “approved of their killing him.” In the next chapter Saul will experience an astounding conversion, but before that happens he is a Roman Jew who persecutes and imprisons Christians. Can any of us imagine the person who is our greatest persecutor becoming our most ardent champion? Yet Christ made it possible for Saul. When Christ tells us to pray for our enemies, it’s not just to change their hearts, but to change ours as well. Because you never know.
In business, when customer debt is deemed uncollectible, the business has a few options. One is to write it off as bad debt. When this happens, the business can no longer consider that receivable an asset, though the business may continue to try to collect it or sell it off to a collection agency. Generally the business reports this event to credit reporting agencies, and the customer’s debt clings to them for years. A second option is to forgive the debt. The customer must be notified and the business can no longer try to collect. When Christ died for us, all our debts were forgiven … including Saul’s. That is why his past, once he accepted the notice he’d been forgiven, could not be held against him. That is why the present circumstances of anyone, including our persecutors and ourselves, do not give us permission to write them off. Because we never know.
When we write someone off, we say: “You no longer drag me down, but I retain the right to remind you and everyone else how you’ve done me wrong.” If we forgive them, we say: “I don’t like what you did, but it does me no good to waste effort on this debt. Go in peace and I’ll do the same.” Because of the cross, the decision has been taken out of our hands. After all, Jesus taught us to pray: “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
Comfort: You aren’t responsible for judging all the wrongs of the world.
Challenge: Meditate on what debts you have trouble forgiving. Pick one to work on forgiving before the year is out.
Prayer: Lord of Healing, forgive me as I forgive my debtors. Amen.
Discussion: When customer debt is forgiven, it may be considered a form of income and therefore create a tax obligation. Do you feel that God’s forgiveness of our debts creates any obligations for us?
Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!