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December 18 - LD 51, Day 2: Our Debts

Tuesday the 18th of December

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

December 18 - LD 51, Day 2: Our Debts 
by Rev. Martyn McGeown

II Kings 4:1 - “ …the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

In the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, our sins are called debts. A debt is an obligation to pay something we owe, but which we have not paid. To be a debtor who is unable to pay puts a person in a very difficult situation—he is at the mercy of his creditors. In the ancient world, creditors were not known for their mercy.

The widow in II Kings 4 was in such a predicament. Her husband had died, leaving her responsible for the household debt. The creditor was hounding her for the money she owed, but she had no source of income. Moreover, the interest (usury) on the debt was steadily increasing. Her cruel creditor demanded that she make full payment, and if not, he threatened to sell her and her family into slavery, and confiscate her possessions. Thus she cries unto Elisha the prophet: “Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen” (v1). By a miracle, Elisha provided the widow with the means to pay back her creditors (v2-7).

Thus we see how miserable debt is. It causes anxiety, sleepless nights, fear when the mail arrives or the telephone rings. Sometimes when debt spirals out of control, a person’s house will be repossessed. In former days, there were debtors’ prisons for delinquent borrowers.

We are spiritual debtors before God. We owe God an amount which we have not paid and which we cannot pay. Our debt is not money—God has no need of money. Our debt is a debt of love.

As human beings, who were created in our first father in the image of God, we are obligated to love our Creator. We owe God lifelong, perfect obedience in love.  In short, we must love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must devote everything we have to the service of God. That obligation is upon us every moment of every day. Adam and Eve, before the fall, gladly performed that obligation—without sin. But when Adam and Eve fell—and when we fell in them—they (and we) ceased to perform that obligation. In fact, because of the fall, they (and we) became totally corrupted and depraved, so that we are spiritually unable and unwilling to fulfill that obligation.

However, as LD 4 taught us, while the fall destroyed our ability to obey, it did not destroy our obligation to obey. When a person has taken out a loan, but then his financial circumstances change for the worse, the bank does not relieve him of the obligation to pay back the loan. So God does not relieve mankind of the obligation to love Him—God is still glorious; God is still worthy of all praise and devotion from His creatures.

Alas, we cannot pay. Therefore our prayer is—and can only be—“Forgive us our debts.”


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