The Giver

When I was a child I often heard in church, “God is no man’s debtor.”

There’s a lot in the Bible to support that statement: The whole sowing and reaping concept found in Corinthians; The “give to the the poor and God will repay” concept found in Proverbs; The “put first the kingdom” teaching in Matthew, to name a few.

It seems many of the Old Covenant Laws had to do with repaying what was taken from someone; hence, “an eye for an eye” was required. That wasn’t exactly a win/win situation, but maybe whoever caused the loss of an eye needed to know the immensity of the sin he had committed.

As I wrote in Smooth Stones & Promises, the Old Testament is all about the destructive nature of sin, while the New Testament is about the life-giving power of grace brought through Jesus. Grace and life bring wholeness. In fact, the word “peace” in the Bible actually means wholeness. When Jewish folk say “Shalom, shalom” they are both asking and declaring, “How is your peace? Be at peace.” In other words, “Are you whole? Is there something missing that needs replacing? May it happen.”

Given the significance of wholeness in these Levitical laws, it just makes sense to me that it is in God’s nature to give back, perhaps in abundance, what has been given to Him or given to others in His name.

I’m convinced it’s true, even when what you have given is time.

My husband and I were chatting last night about when he was in a doctoral program in Texas years ago. When he brought home his first stack of readings we both were scared by the size of it. And I was even more terrified for him when I found out it was for one week.

When Sunday came, Glenn looked at the box of readings and was sorely tempted to stay home and read, but he had already made a quality decision that he would go to church every Sunday morning. He felt that without that one quality decision, he would have to make the same decision every week, and might spend years attending church only sporadically.

He held to it, and I don’t recall any Sunday when I sat in church without Glenn.

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Last night during our chat I remembered that, in spite of the fact that at one point in the process he was way behind everyone in his cohort, he ended up finishing before them all—and even before several of those in the group ahead of his.

Last night was the first time we connected the early completion of the dissertation to his commitment to take time away from the work to attend church with the family.

Not necessarily connected? Maybe not, but I doubt that because I try to let the Bible explain my experience, not the other way around, and because God really is no man’s debtor.

I don’t think it’s in His nature. He’s a giver.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).