In a simple little sentence Paul reveals how thoroughly he had grasped Jesus' meaning. He said, |I am debtor
both to Greeks and barbarians| -- to all men. Now that word, |debtor,| commonly means two things: that you have received something of value from some one, and that therefore you owe him for what he gave to you.
But Paul hadn't gotten anything special from the men of whom he is speaking. His birth and training and whatever else he had were Jewish. And the Jews were a minority in the world. He was not under the debtor obligation of having gotten something from the men he is speaking of.
In his use of that word, |debtor| means three things: first, something received from God, and that something everything; then something owing to God; and then that something payable to man. He counted himself in debt to all men on Jesus' account. And so are we. How much owest thou to thy Lord? That's how much you are to pay to men on your Lord's account.
We are not even our own, much less our goods. We were bought up when we were bankrupt A great price was paid for us, even the life-blood of Jesus. And our Owner bids us pay up by paying out. We are badly and blessedly in debt; badly, for we can never square the account; blessedly, because we can be constantly paying on account, out to men in Jesus' name.
|Over against the Treasury this day
The Master silent sits; whilst, unaware
Of that Celestial Presence still and fair,
The people pass or pause upon their way.
And some go laden with His treasures sweet,
And dressed in costly robes of His device
To cover hearts of stone and souls of ice,
Which bear no token to the Master's feet.
And some pass, gaily singing, to and fro,
And cast a careless gift before His face,
Amongst the treasures of the holy place,
But kneel to crave no blessing ere they go.
And some are travel-worn, their eyes are dim,
They touch His shining vesture as they pass,
But see not -- even darkly through a glass --
How sweet might be their trembling gifts to Him.
And still the hours roll on; serene and fair
The Master keeps his watch, but who can tell
The thoughts that in His tender spirit swell,
As one by one we pass him unaware?
For this is He who, on one awful day,
Cast down for us a price so vast and dread,
That He was left for our sakes bare and dead,
Having given Himself our mighty debt to pay!
Oh, shall unworthy gifts once more be thrown
Into His treasury -- by whose death we live?
Or shall we now embrace His cross, and give
Ourselves, and all we have, to him alone?|
Is not that the meaning of Paul's |Owe no man anything, save to love one another.| We owe a debt of love to all men on Jesus' account. We can be paying on it continually, and yet never get a receipt in full that discharges the debt. But then we get other things in full -- peace, and joy, and a life overflowing in fulness.
With an honorable business man a debt is a first obligation. His personal expenditures and his home schedule are shaped by his debt. The extras that he would feel quite free in allowing himself and his home are not allowed until the debt is cleared. The debt controls his spendings until it is paid off in full. That's reckoned a matter of honor.