debt.to.love

This is a guest post by Jason Stasyszen, a very supportive fellow blogger, and someone I consider a friend. He is a church planter in Alaska who has a very approachable personality. I love fellow church planters, so he occupies much of my prayer time. He authors the site “Connecting To Impact” – be sure to add his site your RSS reader

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I’m in debt. Some of it is due to circumstances beyond my control, some my own choices, and some just a lack of wisdom. I don’t like it, but it’s still true.

And the reality is this debt influences some of what I can and cannot do. I may not be able to give as much or as often as I like. I may not be able to afford to go on that mission trip because it will mean I have to take leave without pay.

I could just quit paying the creditors, but how does that look to a world needing Jesus? No, I try to make a plan, do my best to stick to it, and get out of debt while figuring out how to avoid the pitfalls again.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8).

I can see how monetary debt controls some of what I can and cannot do, but here’s where I’m wrestling: will you and I allow that debt of love to direct and constrain us?

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

What if I saw loving and serving those around me truly as my debt? What if this controlled what I could and could not do? Maybe I wouldn’t think I can say whatever I want when I want. Maybe I wouldn’t pass by the person in need, pretending I didn’t see them.

I am quick to say I owe God everything, but where I want to live with integrity with the bill collectors, I find myself behind in payments with God many times. Don’t misunderstand, we can never repay God for His kindness and goodness, taking the shame, sin, and death we deserve. It is a debt that continues forever, but this is my point.

My loving and caring for brothers and sisters in an expression of love to God, and if I don’t I’m a liar. This is not about guilt and condemnation, but living what I say I believe. There is a real debt, a continuing debt, to love one another, and I need to plan my life accordingly.

This debt brings freedom to us and those around us. I can’t say I fully understand, but I know it’s true.

There’s a debt nonetheless. We can’t fire off a “payment” here and there—a volunteer hour, a phone call, a tithe check, a mission trip— and be finished with it. A lifestyle of love must be developed and maintained because we are not our own and there is grace and freedom here and now.

Have you ever thought of debt this way? Do you feel moved by the debt to love?

42 thoughts on “debt.to.love”

  1. Thanks for guest posting Jason. Your post definitely touches on some internal questions that I’ve been dealnig with for some time, ever since I caught wind of a book that The House Studio is publishing called Economy of Love.

    The answer to your question is, “No, I haven’t thought of a love debt, and I definitely feel compelled by the idea.”

    That love is not something I choose as a luxury, but that it is something owed, because Of God’s immense grace is compelling and provocative at the same time.

  2. “This debt brings freedom to us and those around us.” – out of committment, passion, responsibility, duty, and desire this type of debt DOES bring freedom. Great challenging thoughts here Jason. I am being continually reminded that in dying to yourself (paying off your debt), God always gives life back to you. In sacraficing your life, you find your life. In losing your life, you find your life. In paying off this debt, you receive freedom. I do feel moved by the debt of love.

    His kingdom come, His will be done.

    1. Yeah, you’re right. It’s the same idea. Death, burdens, debt don’t carry the same meaning or emphasis in light of who God is. Great thoughts. Thanks Ryan.

  3. When I pray that I desire to feel and be moved by His heartbeat I am asking to indeed be constrained by that debt. Do I have it right yet? Not by a long shot, but our God is all knowing and all forgiving and the Master of a billion second chances. After all, He is the One Who paid the debt He didn’t owe to redeem us.

          1. Jason! I don’t have much time, I have to leave right now! But I listened to that album. I noticed you had some albums but had no time to listen. But I did now and sometimes sounded like Tim Hughes. I loved “You are faithful” “Broken” oh well, actually I loved them all. Will come back later. I really have to leave NOW!

  4. Love this post and love Ryan’s comment.

    I have never really given a lot of thought to the idea of a debt of love… Typically I consider debts in negative terms (i.e. I hate paying bills!).

    I know and consider daily that because of His love within me, I am enabled and encouraged to love all others. It is through that life of love that my faith is shown true (See 1 John 5).

    Love is definitely due.

    1. You’re not alone on the idea of debt having a negative connotation! As I meditated on this scripture, I kept seeing how with natural debt I wanted to be faithful but with love I didn’t always feel the same imperative. I want to understand and proclaim how deep, how wide, how long, and how high is the love of Christ! Thanks Dusty.

  5. There’s a debt nonetheless. We can’t fire off a “payment” here and there—a volunteer hour, a phone call, a tithe check, a mission trip— and be finished with it. A lifestyle of love must be developed and maintained because we are not our own and there is grace and freedom here and now.~~~~~This is a powerful statement and a powerful post.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thank you Jim. It’s amazing too that this scripture doesn’t just say a debt to love to God, but to love one another, to take care of our fellowman. I love how God speaks!

  6. ‘debt to love’ , i guess we all owe that to one another. sometimes, its hard to keep loving those that continuously hurt you but i believe His grace is sufficient.

    just thought i should share this scripture 1 John 4:20- ‘If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.’

    thanx 4 sharing.

  7. I remember seeing the movie The Passion of the Christ, and when they weren’t even half finished, I turned away in my seat, crying inside, telling Him to stop, because I am not worth it. He then spoke in my heart to tell me I am to Him. Each of us are, to Him.

    My point? Just that when you consider how much He loves each of us, it becomes clear as to why He wants us to serve one another. Your point about serving others as a debt owed to HIm is an excellent one.

    1. I had a similar reaction in that movie, and I had so many tears. You’re right. The reality that He took it all–guilt, shame, punishment, death–for me is profoundly important to how I serve others. Thank you Helen.

  8. Okay, I’m back.

    There is so much in this post. Change, Debt, Direction, Radicality, Love. I just realized what if I put those words together: change debt to radical love. I have never thought of debt this way.

    I love the last line “A lifestyle of love must be developed and maintained because we are not our own and there is grace and freedom here and now.” I truly believe that. I believe if kids learn that from home it will be natural to them. I was raised that way. And the fun part of it is that I’m not raised in a christian family.

    I also love what you call “debt to love”, because we are loved by God and have His love so enough to share. If we don’t do that we are in debt. Wow! Thanks Jason.

    1. I agree about raising children within a lifestyle of love – when I was a child, I did not benefit from that. While my children will always be able to choose their own path, I believe that because we couched them in the love of God, we increased their likelihood of choosing to accept God’s love early in life and sticking with Him. Looking back at them now (1 graduated from university, the other enters university this year) it seems to have worked.

  9. Thank you so much for this insight! This is exactly what my husband and I believe at the very core of who we are in Christ! We too struggle to pay off debts, and have integrity in that area. But, you were eloquent in stating what we were saved FOR! There is a world all around us that depends on believers to reach out and serve and give and sacrifice! A continuing debt of love! I love that!
    Thanks again!

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