Attitudes to debt have changed over the years. My parent’s generation would only borrow money for a mortgage. Everything else you only bought if you could afford it.
In my lifetime things have changed. Because we want more stuff we got ‘hire-purchase agreements’ when buying a car, television, new furniture…
Now debt is a way of life. Student loans reflect the assumption that it is normal and acceptable to get into debt. Easy access to credit cards require us to manage both the money that we owe and the money we have.
But our debts are greater than the financial. I look back on many good people who have given me their advice, their example, their love, part of themselves. I am in debt to helpful colleagues, supportive friends, loyal, dependable family…
Jimmy Dean recorded a poem about the debt he owes his mother called ‘I.O.U.’ It includes the lines:
And for washing and ironing
That no laundry could ever do
For drying the tears of childhood and
Ironing out the problems of growing up…
I’m musing again this morning on Paul’s words:
‘Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue then revenue; if respect , then respect; if honour then honour. Let no debt remain outstanding , except the continuing debt to love one another.’ (Romans 13:7-8)
Debt of Money: We should pay our bills and manage our money. There is also an increasing need for us to help and support those in debt.
Debt of Respect: We owe everybody the respect and honour that they deserve as people; the basic human rights that all should have – dignity, liberty, security….
Debt of Love: The practical humble love that Jesus and Paul spoke about, that lives in the daily ordinariness of life, that gives and transforms, bringing peace, joy and hope.