Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Reach out for help to tackle our debts

I’M so pleased that Henley now has its own Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre. Anyone who has ever been in serious debt knows how debilitating it is, and how easily any of us can end up in unexpected financial straits.

You may be surprised to hear that in the gospel records of his life Jesus talks about money more than he does about prayer. Someone has calculated that nearly 30 per cent of his teaching relates in some way to money.

On a number of occasions he speaks specifically about debt, sometimes in surprising contexts. Take for example the Lord’s prayer: “forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

Jesus uses the experience of debt (a common one in his day as well as ours) as an illustration of our need to receive and offer forgiveness. The CAP website (capuk.org) is full of personal stories that relate how those in serious debt have felt trapped and helpless, and how liberated they feel when, with the help of their local CAP centre, they are finally debt free.

Some of us will have had the personal experience of having a debt (even a small one) cancelled. It’s wonderful!

Our sin, teaches Jesus, is like a moral debt that we all have. Trapped and helpless under it, how can we be released from it? There are two possibilities: we pay it back, or the debt gets cancelled (in which case someone else has effectively swallowed it up for us).

The good news is that Jesus has offered a way for this debt — even staggering debts — to be completely cancelled. When he died on the cross he personally paid the full price for us. He invites us to bring him the debt of our sin, trust him to pay it for us, and then to turn to him for the strength to lead a new life. This includes the strength to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us.

It’s easy to recoil at such an offer and think “if I’ve got any moral debt, I’ll pay it back myself thank you very much”. But could it be that you have underestimated how significant this debt is, and the full price required to pay it back?

Some of us know the weight of financial debt. I hope you will reach out to the new CAP debt centre for free, unjudgmental, professional help. All of us are under the weight of a moral debt. I pray that you might reach out to the Saviour who came to “set the prisoners free”, and to to cancel our debts through his forgiveness.

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