The Murky Ground of Indebtedness

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  Romans 8:12

The giving of a gift can communicate different things. It might say, ‘I love you.’ Oh, but it can just as easily convey the message, “Now, you owe me!’ I’m sure you’ve received both kinds. I have.

It’s tricky, isn’t it? I’ve had people tell me that they receive far more gifts with strings attached than they do gifts that are freely given to enjoy. Feeling indebted to people we can’t fully trust is a heavy burden. Let’s face it ~ how some people expect to be repaid can be right out expensive. How many have stayed in a toxic relationship just because of guilt or obligation! Here’s an additional challenge ~ If I’ve been accustomed to getting gifts with strings attached, then I won’t be able to accept free gifts without thinking I surely must owe something.

A good friend of mine who lives in Northern Ohio called earlier this summer to tell me that she knew of a farm stand where black raspberries were being sold. She knew they were my favorite fruit and that I couldn’t get these berries in Georgia. She offered to take a drive (about 40 min. as I recall) and purchase as many as I wanted. She said she would even go the extra mile to freeze them.

Well, I shrieked with joy, literally. Later, she told me on the phone that she had nine pints in the freezer. What came out of my mouth? “Thank you! But surely I owe you a trip to Europe or something.” She laughed and reminded me that they were her gift to me and that I owed her nothing. It’s hard when your default is to feel indebted even when its not warranted.

Can being a debtor be a good thing?  Yes, as long as it’s with Jesus. He is my Savior, He gives without strings, and then invites me to give back my life, not out of guilt (indebtedness) but out of joy and gratitude. What cures sterile Christian service that feels mostly obligatory? Falling in love with the Giver. He is incapable of manipulating and using me to get His needs met.

I am safe to love You with my life. I can not give back too much because You already gave me everything. It is love that constrains me, Jesus. Amen

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