“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7 ESV).
The custom of honoring guests and dignitaries by putting a scarf or garland around their neck is strong in Nepal and much of Asia. In the churches, visiting missionaries, as well as Nepali preachers and leaders, and local civic leaders are almost always welcomed by the ceremony of “garlanding.” It is a means of demonstrating respect and showing that they are held in honor. The traditional scarves and flowers are of little intrinsic value, but the act of being shown respect is priceless.
We can easily forget how dependent we are upon others. Without the service of law enforcement and military personnel, how secure would we be? Without the unselfish sacrifice of earlier patriots would our nation know the independence and freedoms which we experience today? Without men of faith and courage through many centuries would we still have access to the Bible and its message of salvation?
We do not have the opportunity to express our respect by personal ceremonies to those who have given us so much. But it is vital that we remember them and honor them in our hearts. This next Thursday as we celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, let us be grateful to God, and also to all those who are worthy of honor, especially those who helped build and preserve our nation.
Dave Ramsey is not the originator of the concept of “debt-free living.” More than 1,900 years before the talk-radio host promoted that philosophy, the apostle Paul wrote, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other” (Romans 13:8). Paul was not focusing on sound economic policy so much as he was on our ethic of doing what we should. One must pay his legitimate debts, whatever their nature.
The Christian is to be dependable, trustworthy, and honest in all dealings. Whether one’s debts are financial, social, or spiritual, he or she is to take them seriously, acknowledging and repaying them as promptly as is possible. Jesus taught,
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, ‘Do not take an oath at all . . . Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or “No;’ anything more than this comes from evil ” (Matthew 5:33-34, 36).
But there is one debt which can never be discharged. That is to love one’s neighbor as oneself. We will pay that debt all of our lives, but it is not burdensome.
It is inherent in our having been born of God, who is the personification of love: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
If we are genuinely converted, loving others will come naturally, as an extension of our transformed spirit (Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:1-4). Loving others is our obligation, but it is also our deepest impulse, if our spirit has become like that of Jesus.