Good Debt

Verlyn Verbrugge

READ : Romans 13:8-14

Owe no one anything, except to love one another. (v. 8)

I read it in the newspaper again this week: Americans are carrying far too much personal debt. If we have another recession, bankruptcies could skyrocket. A “buy now, pay later” society, while it may stimulate the economy, is a disaster waiting to happen.

“Owe no one anything.” Would Paul say that today? Not necessarily in those words. After all, in his day, the only way to work off unmanageable debt was to sell oneself and even one’s family into slavery. I doubt, for example, that Paul would advise against mortgage debt.

But Paul would have no qualms about repeating the second half of verse 8: It is good to incur the debt of love. What’s that? When we experience the immeasurable love of God in Jesus Christ, we become infinitely indebted to him. Though we can never “pay” God back, we can “work off” our debt by loving other people.

Paul is reflecting here what he wrote in 8:12, immediately after stressing the new life we have in Christ: “So, then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” Rather, we must live according to the fruit of the Spirit, beginning with love.


Dear God, help me as I try to show my debt to you by loving others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.