For hundreds of college graduates last Saturday, there was an extra reason to celebrate. The commencement speaker at the Morehouse College ceremony, billionaire Robert F. Smith, told them that he would be paying off everyone’s student debt. What amazing generosity! It’s estimated that he’ll be disbursing almost 40 million dollars in order to give the graduates a debt-free start in life. By any measure, this is a good news story.
However, there are always people willing to find a negative take on such a positive story. Some people are questioning the sincerity of the donor. Others are questioning the worth of the recipients. Were all the students truly deserving of such a gift? Is it fair that some students had more debt forgiven than others? Were all students responsible with their money management? What if they go out now and take on more debt? What if they don’t appreciate what has been done for them? In short, some people really hate to see grace offered towards others people.
The truth is that the students aren’t worthy of this generosity. That’s why it is a gift. It’s what Christians would call mercy and grace. Some people have trouble with Jesus being gracious to us. They don’t like to see others forgiven of a debt. They aren’t sure that some people will be able to live responsibly. Of course, that’s what makes it grace. None of us deserve it. None of us will live without making more mistakes and needing more forgiveness. Jesus loves us anyway and daily offers us more grace. Our salvation is the ultimate news story of debt repayment and forgiveness.
Smith told the students to take his gift and ‘pay it forward’ to others. This is also what Jesus has asked of us. So if you have been forgiven a great debt, make sure that you offer to forgive others. As Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Pass on the grace that Jesus has given you. It makes all our lives richer.