Such disregard is no fault of the builder. He and his crew labored hours, balancing beams and nailing shingles. Yet, in spite of their effort, most people would notice a two-dollar lamp before they would notice the roof.
Let’s not make the same mistake. As God covered his Great House, he spared no expense. In fact, his roof was the most costly section of the structure. It cost him the life of his Son. He invites us to study his work by virtue of three words in the center of the prayer. “Forgive our debts.”
Debt. The Greek word for debt has no mystery. It simply means “to owe someone something.” If to be in debt is to owe someone something, isn’t it appropriate for us speak of debt in our prayer, for aren’t we all in debt to God?
Aren’t we in God’s debt when we disobey his commands? He tells us to go south and we go north. He tells us to turn right and we turn left. Rather than love our neighbor, we hurt our neighbor. Instead of seeking his will, we seek our will. We’re told to forgive our enemies, but we attack our enemies. We disobey God.
Aren’t we in God’s debt when we disregard him? He makes the universe and we applaud science. He heals the sick and we applaud medicine. He grants beauty and we credit Mother Nature. He gives us possessions and we salute human ingenuity.
Don’t we go into debt when we disrespect God’s children? What if I did to you what we do to God? What if I shouted at your child in your presence? What if I called him names or struck him? You wouldn’t tolerate it. But don’t we do the same? How does God feel when we mistreat one of his children? When we curse at his offspring? When we criticize a co-worker, or gossip about a relative, or speak about someone before we speak to them? Aren’t we in God’s debt when we mistreat a neighbor?
“Wait a second, Max. You mean every time I do one of these things, I’m writing a check on my heavenly bank account?”
That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m also saying that if Christ had not covered us with his grace, each of us would be overdrawn on that account. When it comes to goodness we would have insufficient funds. Inadequate holiness. God requires a certain balance of virtue in our account, and it’s more than any of us has alone. Our holiness account shows insufficient funds, and only the holy will see the Lord; what can we do?
We could try making a few deposits. Maybe if I wave at my neighbor or compliment my husband or go to church next Sunday, I’ll get caught up. But how do you know when you’ve made enough? How many trips do I need to make to the bank? How much credit do I need? When can I relax?
That’s the problem. You never can. “People cannot do any work that will make them right with God” (Rom. 4:5). If you are trying to justify your own statement, forget ever having peace. You’re going to spend the rest of your days huffing and puffing to get to the drive-through window before the bank closes. You are trying to justify an account you can’t justify. May I remind you of the roof of grace which covers you?
“It is God who justifies” (8:33).
From The Great House of God, Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1997) Max Lucado
“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” ~John Maxwell
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