What is the largest debt you have ever had? It may be a debt you currently have and are seeking to pay off. Most people would reply that it is their mortgage. Others may say a student loan and still others may say it is a credit card (or two). This morning we will consider good practical advice about debt from our Lord Jesus Christ. He said in Luke 12:57-59:
And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.
Practical Financial Advice
This is good practical financial advice that we all need to hear and put into practice. First of all, do not incur a debt too large that you cannot pay. Secondly, if you do find yourself in this position, make an effort “to settle with him on the way.”
In Jesus’ day, it was common to become indebted to another person and it was important to repay all debts quickly and thus “settle” the matter. In this parable, the accuser is the one to whom the money is owed. Jesus says you should settle with your accuser or else he will appeal to the law and bring you before the judge. The judge will sentence you as a lawbreaker and put you in prison. Jesus says, “you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny” (59). Being in a debtor’s prison was not good because it was hard to pay off a debt while in jail.
Fortunately, we no longer have a physical debtor’s prison but sadly we have a debtor’s prison in the form of credit debt. No interest no down payment loans and high credit limit credit cards make it easy to quickly accumulate large amounts of debt. Tragically many Christians find themselves in such a large debt that they cannot give their tithes and offerings to God.
If you are currently drowning in debt, there is help and hope for you and God can help you break out of your bondage. Settle this debt before it is too late and it ruins you.
Practical Spiritual Advice
While this is good practical financial advice, this is also good practical spiritual advice. When Jesus spoke before crowds, He often used practical illustrations (parables) to communicate great spiritual truths. The parables Jesus spoke were, as Adrian Rogers once said, “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”
In our passage today, Jesus is not just telling people to avoid financial ruin, but to avoid everlasting ruin. Every single person is born a sinner and in rebellion against God. We fail to love God as we should and instead we love ourselves. We break the law of God and are convicted as transgressors (James 4:9). The law of God brings us a knowledge of our sin (Rom 3:20) but our hearts are hardened and we “suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18) in our ungodliness and unrighteousness. Therefore, we incur a great debt with God that deserves death (Rom 6:23).
If we die in our sins, they are counted against us and we will “appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10). Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Revelation 20:15 says that “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Jesus said that it would be better to cut off your right hand (Matt 5:30) and gouge out your right eye (Matt 5:29) than “your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt 5:29) “where the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). If you die in your sins there will be great torment. What is your response? If you hear these warnings but refuse to believe the Bible says, “because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:5).
Settle With Your Accuser
Because of sin, everyone has a debt with God. The question you must ask yourself is this: How do I get rid of this debt? It is important to know that you cannot get rid of it by ignoring it. It is also important to know that you cannot get rid of this debt yourself. You need help removing the debt and the only way to get rid of this sin debt is to settle with God.
I love how John Bunyan put it in his classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress. He describes a man named Christian who has a large burden on his back which represents sin. Bunyan wrote:
[Christian] ran till he came to a small hill, at the top of which stood a cross and at the bottom of which was a tomb. I saw in my dream that when Christian walked up the hill to the cross, his burden came loose from his shoulders and fell off his back tumbling down the hill until it came to the mouth of the tomb, where it fell in to be seen no more.
You have a debt that needs forgiving and God is willing to forgive it. This forgiveness (salvation) comes “by grace through faith” (Eph 2:8). This forgiveness of your debt comes by surrendering to Jesus as Lord and asking Him to be your Savior. I love how Paul describes this forgiveness of our debt in Colossians 2:13-14:
And 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.
Have you settled with your accuser? Have you been reconciled to the Father through His beloved Son Jesus? Do you have peace with God? (Rom 5:1). If so, glorify Him through loving obedience. If not, come to Jesus.