Debt means you owe money to somebody. Indebted means obligated or grateful to someone for something they did to help or assist you. Debt causes you to be enslaved while indebted gives you the liberty to be thankful. Debt always involves money. Indebted could involve money but primarily encompasses an action. Indebted is a choice you make out of gratitude to another.
Gratitude and thankfulness are attributes I want to be shown in my life, so I would much rather be indebted to others than in debt. Therefore I am working on my debt. Currently I have two mortgages and a car loan I am working to pay off. I am striving to pay off the smallest loan by doubling payments. When that is accomplished I am going to work on the next loan by taking the monthly amount I used to pay the first loan and sending that amount to the second loan along with that monthly payment.
I needed to see this on paper so I drew out 48 squares for the four years I have left on the loan. As I sent in my monthly payment along with a principal payment, I could theoretically put an X through my current month, AND put an X through the last month. As I make a principal payment I am saving on the interest for that month. Every month I repeat this process and check off two more squares, one at the beginning and one at the end. So not only is my 4 year loan paid off in 2 but I also saved on interest. I like that idea!
I read a book recently that took that plan to a whole new level. It had nothing to do with money debt, yet said volumes on it. The book is called “Enemies of the Heart” by Andy Stanley. It talked about four emotions that damage your heart. The four were guilt, anger, greed and jealousy. Guilt says “I owe you”. Anger says, “You owe me.” Greed says, “I owe me.” Jealousy says, “God owes me.”
Guilt makes people feel that they owe someone because something was done for them that they did not deserve. So they live “indebted” to that someone for years. Because the person feels guilty they are forever trying to pay back. This is not healthy.
Anger on the other hand, says “You owe me.” We get angry when we don’t get what we want. You have taken something or withheld something from me and you owe me! So pay up! Our anger holds that person responsible and demands payment. Interestingly, Andy Stanley used the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18. He owed a lot of debt to his master and when it was called in, he begged for mercy. The master had pity on him (knowing he could never repay) and canceled the debt. Yet that same servant went after somebody who owed him very little and demanded payment then and there. When he begged for mercy the servant denied him forgiveness and had he and his family thrown in jail.
In the book we were given an assignment. Take a piece of paper and fold long ways to create three columns. In the first column make a list of all the people you are angry with. Sadly yet truthfully I have to admit that quickly I filled my page.
In the second column we were to determine what they owe us. We know what they did, but what did they take? That took some time. “I am angry with so and so because they said this.” Okay, they said “this”, but what did they take from me? That took some digging. Because they said “this” to me, they stole my self-worth. Because they did this…..they took this……… Did they owe me money, an apology, time, a family, a reputation? We cannot cancel a debt that we haven’t clearly defined. This process caused me to start looking at my anger in a whole new dimension.
The third column we were to simply cancel the debt. They don’t owe us anymore. We no longer are holding them responsible to pay back something they cannot pay back. There a things that you simply can never get back such as time. Or does an apology, years after the fact, change the hurt or damaged emotions you had endured for decades? No, it does not, so cancel the debt! That is true forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an action. Forgiveness is defined in the dictionary as the process of ending resentment or anger as a result of an offense, mistake or intentional hurt or debt. Here is what I know of forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness benefits you.
2. Forgiveness doesn’t say the other person is innocent.
3. Forgiveness is good for YOU, not just the other person.
4. Forgiveness is freeing.
5. Forgiveness is essential in a Christian’s life.
6. You have been forgiven much, therefore you need to forgive.
7. Forgiveness builds you up while un-forgiveness destroys.
Forgiveness is the antidote for anger. I had carted some anger around for DECADES! Similar to pulling around a little red wagon full of anger! Ridiculous yet revealing! So now I am in the process of taking my little red wagon and exchanging that anger for monopoly money. As my process of forgiveness continues, anytime anger flares up I take a bundle of my monopoly money and pay off the debt.
Personally I have to see things to understand them. Andy Stanley’s book came at a time that I could finally see it, believe it, and take action. Forgiveness truly is freeing! I am experiencing that while I hand out millions of dollars in monopoly money of canceled debt.
I am indebted to Andy Stanley for his honest words…………….