Monthly Archives: January 2018

The Debt Collector

Begging
“The debtor fell down and begged: ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’”(Matthew 18:26)

Ever had a credit card debt?

Imagine owing the bank millions and having no way of repaying it. The bank threatens to take your home and all your assets leaving you and your family broke, homeless and in a state of poverty. The bank has every right to do so. It’s YOUR debt that is outstanding. They are completely justified in casting you aside for failing to repay what you owe.

But what if the bank turned around and said “hey, you know how you owe us millions? Forget about it. We’re going to cancel the debt and wipe your record clean”.

Well that’s exactly what Jesus has done for you.

Jesus often spoke in parables. Parables are stories with a deeper meaning to help break things down for us. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells us about this man (the “debtor”) who had borrowed millions from the King (the “creditor”).

A debtor is someone who owes money.

A creditor is someone who is owed money.

The King decided to collect what was owed to him however the man could not pay so he was to be sold along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned to pay the debt. Talk about loss. That’s literally losing everything.

The debtor fell down and begged:

‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’

Filled with pity for him, the master released him and forgave his debt.

The King FORGAVE his debt. All of it. He knew the man had no way of repaying what he owed so instead he took pity on him and cancelled the debt setting the man free. The debtor did not repay the creditor. He did not earn forgiveness of his debt but forgiveness was freely given by a merciful King who took pity on him.

So what happens next? This same man, the debtor, leaves the King and finds his fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. We see the debtor is now the creditor having someone who owes him money. You would think that the he would be ecstatic and grateful that his GIANORMOUS debt was forgiven that he would forgive the tiny debt this fellow servant owed him.

Unfortunately that’s NOT what happened.

The debtor/now creditor leaves the King, finds his debtor and grabs him by the throat DEMANDING instant payment.

WHOA! That escalated quickly!

His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time.

‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.

We’ve seen this scenario before. However, instead of forgiving the debt (as the King did for him), the creditor had his fellow servant arrested and put into prison until the debt was repaid in full. Some of the other servants who saw this were upset and reported to the King. The King called in the man he had forgiven and said:

‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’

Then the angry King handed the man over to be imprisoned and tortured until he had paid his entire debt. This is the parable and Jesus warns:

“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

It’s not that God imprisons or tortures us but our decision to sin means God must hand us over to the consequence of our sin. God would rather have us suffer temporarily on earth and come to a repentance then to suffer eternally in hell for our sin.

“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10)

God is holy and He cannot affiliate with anything that is not. In order to receive forgiveness, we must forgive (Matthew 6:12). In order to receive mercy, we must show mercy (James 2: 12-13Matthew 5:7 ). Our failure to act in this Christ like manner causes us to lock ourselves out from God’s presence. We imprison ourselves and we suffer when we are separated from God but forgiveness through Christ reconciles us back to God.

I wonder do you show mercy to others? Do you forgive like Christ has forgiven your debts or do you keep a record of wrongs? Do you hold the sins of others against them and bring them up when it suits you?  The debt you owe Christ will always far outweigh the debt anyone will ever owe you. Don’t believe me? Ask the Spirit of God to search you.

“..the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? (1 Corinthians 2: 10-11)

God knows exactly what’s inside your heart and your mind. The world might not always see what’s inside you but the Spirit of God can search every nook and cranny inside of you and reveal the wickedness that lies there. Don’t be afraid to ask God to search you. Don’t be ashamed to bring the darkness into the light. Only then can it be defeated. It has power over you when it is hidden but in the light, the power of sin is destroyed. The Holy Spirit can identify your sin and help you recognise it so you can bring it into the light and destroy it through Christ.

We don’t know all the ways we have offended God. I can sum it up and say that most of us have all sinned against God in some way if not, every way. Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6).

Some of us act as though we are God’s personally appointed debt collectors. We’re not. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). When God forgives our sins, He blots out our transgressions and forgets them (Hebrews 8:12; Isaiah 43:25). He casts our sin into the depths of the ocean (Micah 7:19). Jesus was manifested to reconcile the world to himself not counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5: 18-19). If Jesus Himself is not counting the sins of those forgiven, who are we do to so? There is only one judge. We need to pray for those who fall into sin not hurl their sin back in their face.

Before we look for the speck of sawdust in our brothers eye, we should look at the plank in our own eye (Matthew 7:3; Luke 6:41) and in humility value others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

PRAYER

Dear God, please help me to see all the ways which I have sinned against you so that I may repent and draw closer to you. Please forgive my sins known and unknown and move me to pray for others who sin and not pass judgement. I know my righteousness is filthy rags before you and I want to please you with my whole life. I know I can do all things through you who gives me strength. In Jesus name, Amen.

New Year, New You?

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So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view… if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:16- 17)

A new haircut is not a new you. A better diet is not a new you. A bucket list of places you want to go to is not a new you.  People seem to be willing to change their hair, their body and their lifestyle but not their heart. Real and lasting change has to begin in the heart. If you want a new you, to be a new creation, then let me introduce to your creator.  Only Jesus can instigate the changes necessary to change your heart, renew your mind and make you truly new.

When God changes you, the old you will be unrecognisable, perhaps not physically, but in all other respects. People will notice that something is different about your life and the way you carry yourself. We see in Scripture that when God instigated identity changes, it was so transformative that He even renamed the person whose life He changed!

Abram to Abraham.

Simon to Peter.

Saul to Paul.

Just to name a few. It doesn’t mean a name change is required; the point is their new identity in Christ is so far from who they used to be without Christ that it is as though they are a new person. And they are.  The old has passed away. The “old” is their previous sinful person outside of Christ. We all need to say goodbye to our “old” self. We need to recognise that we have no goodness, peace, joy or any deep rooted sense of fulfilment and satisfaction outside of Christ.

The “New You” is when you become a new creation in Christ.

How many “New Years” have come and gone where you’ve seen short lived change or no significant change in you? Or no matter how much you change, you’re still not satisfied, still not complete? We may have people, things or accomplishments that offer temporary fulfilment but before we know it, we’re empty again. We need someone or something to fill us up and validate us to make us feel good about ourselves. Someone to tell us how great we are, to cuddle us and make us feel loved or we run to get “likes” on social media.

This is a futile exercise. Only Jesus can fill that void inside your heart.

If you want a transformation then welcome Jesus into your heart and watch Him wreck and pull apart the old you and build a beauty and perfection words cannot describe nor do justice. Yes the process hurts at times but it is the best decision you will ever make. As you continue learning new things about yourself in Christ, you will fall in love with Him because you are getting to know who He really is. Remember, Christ is building you up into HIS image. You are getting to know Christ and your true self in Christ. You better believe you are so valuable, so precious and so loved.

We invest all this time in getting to know others but we never invest in getting to know ourselves. We need invest time in getting to know our true selves and discovering our identity in Christ, our true identity.

When the “old” is passing away, it is being removed as one sinful nature after another. You get to pass one test at a time.  The Holy Spirit will invite you to cut off or change anything that is stopping you from growing into the image of Christ and hindering the process of change. It could be a bad relationship, a habit or changing your way of thinking.  You may need to forgive someone, let go of resentment or learn to surrender every aspect of your life to God.

Imagine going out with someone and as you are trying to get to know them, they dump their entire life story on you beginning from their first breathe up til that specific moment in time. It would be overwhelming and confusing. You would quickly excuse yourself to leave or hatch an elaborate escape plan!

God doesn’t just dump your “new identity” on you all at once. It’s a process. You are getting to know one another and this takes time. You need to spend time with each other and be intentional about your relationship with Him. How else do you get to know someone? Sit before God, spend time reading His Word, write to Him, sing to Him, and speak to Him. There are so many ways you can connect and you don’t have to worry about your phone battery dying or exceeding your data plan or minutes. He’s always there, always ready plus heaven has the best phone plan and its lines are never down.

Be patient.  Although you may be a “new creation” through repentance and reconciliation back to God, you may still see some remnants or residue of your “old self” but fear not, God is going to work through it with you. He invites you to change. If you don’t get it right the first time just keep trying. God will get you to where you need to be if you keep seeking Him no matter how many times you fall. Seek forgiveness with a genuinely repentant heart, pick yourself back up and try again.

This year, focus on changing the only person you can change, you.

Jesus is calling you by name. You are invited.