Debts That Can't Be Paid

The front page news here in Europe is all about the debt crisis in Greece. On Sunday Greeks voted against a bailout package. No one is really sure how this is all going to play out or what it means for the future of Greece and the Eurozone. But it’s going to be painful.

One thing seems clear: Greece will never be able to repay all its debt. While the IMF has recently acknowledged this fact, it’s also true about most other countries. Overall national debts in many industrial countries today are so high that the likelihood of ever getting out of debt is almost zero. History tells us that many great city-states, nations and empires came to an end because of bad debts and their inability to repay.

God is concerned about debt. In the Old Testament, Jews were forbidden to charge interest on loans. This was done to ensure that people would be able to repay and not spend a lifetime in servitude. The law required that every seven years all debts be cancelled so that people could have a fresh start. Debt has a way of squeezing life out of people and removing any chance of hope.

This crisis has caused me to pause and give thanks that my debt has already been paid.

The Bible calls sin a debt. Each one of us has a debt of sin greater than we would ever be able to repay. Paul says in Romans 4:25 that Jesus “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Furthermore he reminds us that “you who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

The hymn writer put it this way:

I had a debt I could not pay,
He paid the debt He did not owe,
I needed someone,
To wash my sins away

So while I pray that a reasonable solution can be found to the crisis in Greece, I am also giving thanks that my greatest debt has been paid. Jesus’ death and resurrection has given me a fresh start and hope for the future.

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