Debtor’s Ethic

I’ve never met a Christian that had the qualifications or resources to payback God for anything He has done for them.  However, I have observed people saying, “Before I can fully receive from God; I have to get right with Him.”  I believe the thought at the root of this statement is this:  “I do not feel worthy enough to receive anything from God right now. But, once I get my life right then maybe, just maybe, I will be able to then.”  Then what? “Then I will be able to pay him back for my deliverance and restoration.  Then I will be worthy enough to receive His Grace.”

I find it interesting that all these people believe in God; however, the perception of their self-worth has made them unable to receive from God.  They have perceived themselves right into something known as the “Debtor’s Ethic.”  Read the rest you will see what I mean.

As I was spending time with Dr. Piper yesterday I discovered some interesting information.  As most of you know I have been looking into the art of receiving.  Not just the mere, “here I gave or give you this” but a deeper sense of reception.  Actually, letting the reception of something sink deep into one’s heart – no strings attached.  Unfortunately, the majority of my research supports the fact that people, whether Christian or non-Christian have an impulse to attach a self-debt to every gift receiving situation.  Dr. Piper supports me in this when he says, “There is an impulse in the fallen human heart—all our hearts—to forget that gratitude is a spontaneous response of joy to receiving something over and above what we paid for.  When we forget this, what happens is that gratitude starts to be misused and distorted as an impulse to pay for the very thing that came to us ‘gratis.’ This terrible moment is the birthplace of the ‘debtor’s ethic.  God meant for gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another.  He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors.  If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic—and the effect is to nullify grace.”

According to Webster “gratis” means: without charge or recompense: free. Can anyone imagine how freeing it would be, if during the ‘gratis’ moment in any relationship we just rested, received, and rejoiced; instead of focusing on the giver’s loss. When we obsess about the repayment of a free gift, we nullify and steal the cheerful joy from the giver.  We all know its true – God “Loves a cheerful giver.”  I’ve come to discover that he loves a “Joyful receiver” just the same. “Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves. (Philipians 4:23 MSG) 

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