Let Go and let God…… Debt Free Living (Enter your Sabbath)
Mathew 18: 21-35, Deut 15:1-11
If you are just joining us, Generous living is about expressing the heart of God and finding true freedom as we acknowledge that we have been blessed to be a blessing. As a principle we have learnt that Generous living is living life with open hands,Open hands means a sign of surrender to the Lord, a sign of gratitude as we receive from the Lord and lastly a sign of accountability as we live honestly before God.
Many of us are familiar with the Okedes story, that diffficult experience when you entrusted someone with your hard earned resources and with a lot of hope gave or lent with a promise of great return, but then it turns sour.
I have been involved in 2 cases of chasing after people for money. My brother lost money to a conman who disappeared with the money promising to import a car. I remember those long pursuits of looking for the guy, odd hours in funny places, more corrupt dealings with police. My cousin also just about the same time, took a loan and lent to a colleague with the hopes of making a good return, she quit her job and disappeared.
These pursuits for unpaid debts are common in our society leading to sometimes depression, and mistrust and broken relationships.
If Generous Living is living life with Open hands, then living in debt whether as the lender or the borrower is one of those things that gets our hands folded back into a fist and getting us enslaved. When we have lent generously and someone took advantage of us or When we have borrowed and are unable to repay, we find ourselves folding our hands tightly in shame as the borrower, and in pain as the giver?
Today we contend with the question- is debt free living possible, as believers are how should we go about lending and borrowing?
My prayer is that God’s abundant LIFE in us will prompt us to Let Go and Let God. My thesis is that Generous Living is living life under the blessing of God’s Sabbath.
In Matt 18: 21-35 is a story lesson by Jesus answering a question to Peter, who asked “how many times must I forgive, up to seven times?” Peter thought this is extremely generous as it was the common teaching and interpretation of the Sabbath principle.
Back in Deuteronomy 15 The Lord had commanded that in the seventh year, the children of Israel were to cancel all the debts they were owed by fellow Israelites.
In answering Peter, Jesus gives an even greater illustration and understanding of the Sabbath principle. He says forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven.
He then elaborates the point using the story of the unmerciful servant
In Hebrews 4:3,9-11 we as believers have entered the sabbath. God’s LIFE in us brings us the Sabbath rest.
But what does sabbath living have to do with Generous Living and debt?
Sabbath was a time the Lord set for His people to rest and realign their Lordship. It was meant to remind Gods people that they are not living because of the product of thier work, but because of the Lord who blesses their work.
It also reminded them that only God was the real Land Lord and that everyone was equally a tenant, therefore no one owns or is Lord over another but only God.
So why cancel debts on the Sabbath year
You see in this culture, when someone owed you, you exercised controll over them, you would take him and put him to jail. You had the right.To be in debt was and is still a form of enslavement. Allowing another other than God to be your master.
That’s what debt does. We may not be jailed, but to a great extent we become slaves of those we owe, our lives and patterns are significantly affected, our hands become tied.
As a lender,debt deceives us to thinking we have power to control people, we think they live under our mercy, they become our puppets and so our hands close even tighter as we feel more powerful.
The extent of debt in the community is that relationships are destroyed because of lies and unmet promises, leading to hiding in shame and living in fear and anger. Lenders have tortured families and destroyed homes demanding for their money.
Debt causes stress and worry,ruins reputation, credibility and relationships.
But what is probably worse is that debt has probably robbed us of our worship of God. Just as it was then, people have with held their best substance and offering to the Lord, because of debts. It was hard to offer to the Lord what someone else points as theirs. Debt ties up our resources and make them unavailable to the Kingdom of God. We rob God so that we can pay man.we want to give, but how do I go about it, in the presence of the guy I owe.
Ask yourself which comes first in your budget to pay loan or to pay tithe?
How does Jesus respond to our dilemma. ” Give to Caesar what belongs to ceasar and to God what belongs to God. He suggests that it is equally your responsibility not to be ensnared so as to be released to worship the Lord in freedom and truth.
Debt leads to dishonest scales before God and man, we find ourselves using dishonest measures when working out tithe. We get into the debates of tithing from net and gross.
It is common in a community there will be lending and borrowing, but how different should we go about it as believers?
So what’s the Sabbath way of living, the Sabbath way is cancelling debts as ours has been cancelled by the Lord. Christ spreads his hands on the cross to say I have done all the work, I have cancelled all your debts, so don’t go back to any other chains, I am your only Lord.
In the same way, I want to invite you to consider that God invites you to debt free living. First from any debt you feel you owe to the Lord, God is not pleased when we come to worship with baggage of unpaid tithe, unhonored pledges that linger in our minds.
As you go about giving to the Lord, set your faith target to give, trust God as Abraham did, see what you can do more, or do less, or do without take the minus one challenge…..and then bring the whole result to the Lord and close it there.
So what is the sabbath way, the Generous Living way….the open hands way
God is a giver not a lender, so Give generously and Let Go instead of lending with strings attached. Don’t enslave anyone to you, if you cannot, honestly don’t. Let your yes be yes and your no be no, without strings attached.
Read Deut 15:7-10
I also want to ask a bold step, would you consider Cancelling someone’s debt, are there people whose lives and families are being destroyed trying to settle your debt…. How strong of a testimony would it be to them, that Jesus is the only Lord.
Or you are loosing your soul chasing after people who took your money or property, you have spent enough resources and energy chasing….I suggest to you to can cell that debt, let Go and let God. Let God pursue it….
Or some of us people have died owing you, let it go, don’t go pressing the family to pay you….I remember chasing such a person and we ended up at the parents place and threatening to sell their parents land, to pay for their daughter’s loan.
As a borrower, it always feels heroic to say…,I will pay you back, but don’t allow your tongue to enslave you. Ask if you must but don’t take a loan.
What if you are in debt already
1. Pray- search your heart and see what may have led to the situation, is there greed, or fears you need to confess, do you need to trust God, ask God for wisdom to go about settling your debts.
2. Take action- Develop a realistic plan to get out and not into more debt, stop incurring new debt, begin to tithe, if you werent, destroy your credit cards, (bankers may not like me much here) plan the repayment time and communicate to your creditors. This restores your credibility. Set a budget including the repayments. See ways you can invest or to earn more. Reduce on a few things….move to a smaller house if you must, move from certain influences and peers
How about credit cards- common today,but high temptation to unplanned expenditure. If you must,have the discipline to use it only on what’s budgeted, repay as soon as possible, and the first time you exceed repayment limit, pay off, destroy it and dont take another one.
How about mortgages….You can make an exception for mortgages to purchase a home, usually it makes sense if its in alignment to your realistic monthly rental, but do your best to meet half way, save a big percent first, work at quickly paying off. Assess your needs and yourself realistically to go for what you need, not peer influence. Think of options of building first.
In conclusion, Generous Living proposes the Sabbath living when it comes to debt. Our hands open when we let Go and Let God.Owe nothing but Love to each other
If God has cancelled your debts, no one can bind you, if God has done it above, no one can undo it here on earth. You will not run away from your debtors, but God will vindicate you. I welcome you to Sabbath rest.
I am blessed of the Lord to be a blessing to the Nations. God’s LIFE is my all sufficient resource. All that I am and have I give for the extension of Gods kingdom. With open hands I receive from the Lord and with open hands I give to the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word.
1. Share your debt stories
2. Read the scripures here, what lessons can you draw from these texts, what is keeping you from entering your Sabbath.
3. What decisions is the Lord prompting you to make in order to live debt free?