Changing the World#9. “Owe no one anything…”

Changing the World#9. “Owe no one anything…”

The image of Abraham as a lonely man walking across Palestine with his wife, a few servants and a small herd of livestock is far from reality. We see instead a man able to instantly muster 318 men for war. Surely, this was clear evidence of great wealth and a large community under his leadership.

During the War of the Kings (Gen.14), Lot was taken from Sodom with other captives and various spoils of war. Abraham’s successful military campaign to rescue Lot netted those captives and the spoils of war.

When the king of Sodom arrived to collect his people, he told Abraham that he would take the people and Abraham could have the property. Abraham spurned his offer: “I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’” (Gen.14:23).

The thought of the king of Sodom acting as if he was the author of Abraham’s success was unacceptable. Abraham claimed God as his sole benefactor and was not about to allow a third party to usurp that claim.

Christians must also take care that they are beholden to no one in the cause of the Gospel.

Paul reminded the Ephesian Elders: “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes” (Acts 20:33). His willingness to support himself removed from churches the temptation to expect special concessions from him in return for money. Thus, he could say: “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27).

Living by the principle, “Owe no one anything” (Rom.13:8), will aid us at many levels. Not only does financial indebtedness cause our lives to slow down, the indebtedness we feel to those who believe we owe them loyalty does also.

In Philippians 4 Paul demonstrates his ministry gift-receiving policy. From the depths of his heart, he thanks the Philippians for their financial support—but accepts it as a “gift given to God.” It was received as from an equal partner in the Gospel, and something that would bring a direct return from God.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom.12:8).

John Staiger

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