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Defining Debt


It's June 14, 2011.  "But Mr. McGuire, you've maxed out your Visa card, Master card, American Express card, and your Sears card.  You've got a mortgage, a secured line of credit on your house, and now you want me to raise your credit limit on your unsecured line of credit"?


"Yes Miss. Babcock", answers John McGuire somewhat sheepishly.


"I don't understand", replies the mortgage manager as she jots down a few numbers on a note pad.


"It's simple Miss Babcock.  I need my credit limit raised in case I need money to pay the interest on my debt", John replies as he nervously clears his throat.


"How about the principle"?  asks Miss Babcock.      


"Principle?  I can't pay that.  I can only pay the interest", responds John.  "Maybe someday I'll win the lottery and then I can pay the principle".


"You're waiting for a miracle John"?


At that moment, Bruce Cockburn's hit song "Waiting For A Miracle" flashes through John's head.  "I could sure use that miracle now Bruce", he thinks to himself.   


John heads home in hopes of having his credit limit raised.  With coffee in hand, he sits down at his computer, types "Washington Post" into Google, and up comes the latest headlines at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/

June 14, 2011 – Washington Post headlines read; "Bernanke To Congress – Don't Allow The U.S. To Default".  John reads on.  "F
ederal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday that “maintaining the status quo is not an option” when it comes to the debate over addressing the country’s soaring debt. But he also warned Congress that a failure to raise the debt ceiling this summer is also not an option ..."


Across the room John hears a CNN commentator addressing Bernanke's statement." America needs its debt limit raised in order to borrow more money to pay its bills and the interest on its existing debt", he says. 


"Hey!  That sounds like me", John says.  "I'm not the only one with frustrating finances.  It appears we're all in the same sinking ship".  


The CNN commentator went on to say that every day that passes, the American dollar loses value.  China, typically not America's best friend, has lent the U. S. tons of money and now they're afraid we can't pay them back.  "That scares China , and it scares me too", the commentator says.  "We're on the verge of bankruptcy, just like Greece, and they're rioting in the streets over there because of their financial mess.  I would hate to see riots in our streets.  We need a higher debt ceiling, and we need to print more money".  


"Print money"?  John asks himself.  "If I could print  money, that would sure solve my problems".   


The CNN commentator admits that borrowing and printing more money isn't the long term solution.  It would only make things worse in the long run, but in the short run, it might provide time to fix America's financial mess, assuming it's fixable", he adds.   


"Wow".  John sighs.  "That's bad news".


Hoping to hear some good news, John turns the channel to a Canadian TV network.  A reporter stands in front of the Canadian Parliament building.  "Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warns the U.S. Congress that if they don't fix their debt problem, the U.S. will send the world's economy into a fatal free-fall.  Canada will definitely suffer".       


John throws the remote down on the couch in disgust. "Isn't there any good news these days"?  Just then he notices his wife's Bible on the coffee table.  It's open to Matthew 6:12.  He reads, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors".


"Give me a break", John yells out as he throws the Bible down besides the remote.  "I've had enough of this debt business.  Why is the word "debt" in the Lord's prayer anyway"?  


The answer to John's question is relevant in today's world.  The Greek word translated as "debt" in the KJV, NIV, and other translations, is the word "opheilema".  It simply means, "something that someone owes to someone else".  "Opheilema" is used in a number of New Testament passages.  In Matthew 18:2 it's used in connection with financial debt.  In Romans 13:7 it's used in respect to money, taxes, respect, and honor.  In 1 Corinthians 7:3 it's used in respect to husbands and wives fulfilling their sexual "duty" (NIV) to each other.   "Opheilema" is associated with more than just money. 


In Matthew 6:12, Jesus associates "opheilema", or "debt", with sin.  I find that interesting. When we sin, we become a debtor to the one we sin against, and ultimately, all sin is directed against God, making us in debt to Him.  Thanks to Jesus, He has purchased our debt, freeing us from spiritual bankruptcy.   


In Biblical terms, excessive and unmanageable financial debt is sin, as I believe Matthew 6:12 implies, and sin leads to death, as Paul says in Romans 6:23.  When we view financial debt in terms of sin and death, debt takes on a new meaning.  The more debt we have, the more of a stranglehold it has around our necks.  Unmanageable debt will sooner or later suffocate both an individual and a nation.  Nations are presently on the doorstep of death with soaring debt.  Sweat is dripping from our national foreheads.  The stench from our national armpits is beginning to stink the gates of heaven.  We cough. We spit.  We gag, and we choke.  We're about to fall on our financial faces under the weight of this   overwhelming debt.  Who will bail us out this time?     


The book of Revelation predicts the collapse of our world economy and the rise of a popular leader who will revive us from financial heart failure.  As we see him on the horizon, our national leaders will clamor and claw their way to him, begging him for access into his new world order.  This too will come to a fatal fall as Revelation 18;2 and 17 states, "Fallen is Babylon the Great!  In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin".   


With evangelical vigor, the west has exported its Hedonistic lifestyle throughout the world.  This has created unmanageable debt in every nation who has bought into this way of life. If debt is sin, and if sin leads to death, debt will due us in.  It's that simple. 


"He (Jesus) who testifies to these things says, 'yes, I am coming soon'.  'Amen.  Come Lord Jesus'". (Revelation 22:20 )

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