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CLS 1 Cor 3_13 Beware of the Debtors Ethic

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Beware of the Debtor's Ethic 1 Cor.13:3

Church Life series


  •  Kids at Christmas…
  •  Exciting time…
    • Birth of Christ
    • Family around
    • Giving of Gifts
  •  “Hey dad… what do you want for Christmas?”
  • Regardless of my answer the follow-up question is fairly consistent…
  •  Can I borrow some money… (they have redefined borrow)
  •  My “gift” is directly related to my willingness to pay for it…


1 Corinthians 13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.


  •   Paul it isn’t about what is given…
  •  Most of us hold to a debtor’s ethic…
    • That means when someone does something for us we feel an obligation to respond… that becomes our motivation to reciprocate
  •  Guilt can pervade this relationship
    • Well he helped us move… I should
    • They took care of our kids when ‘we’ went away… so we should
    • They gave Bethany a ride last time… we should…
  • Motivation by obligation


  • God doesn’t ask us to pay for our gift… nor does he expect us to live under a debtor’s ethic.
  • In relationship to the Sovereign and Almighty God…
    • Anything we give him was his to start…
    • Our resources… our lives…. Our everything
    • If we give him from his storehouse… we just owe him more!
    • We are never paying off the debt… and need to reflect that…
    • It steals the glory from God when we presume that we are somehow lessening our debt to him…
    • It glorifies him when we take all that we have and all that we are and purpose to bring glory to his name … commting these things to him… not as repayment… but loving obedience in relationship
    • Grace is the means by which we connect to God
    • Faith comes from God alone through by Grace…
    • It is God who works for us…. His call is then to recognize it and glorify his name


Not About Doing the Right Things

  • Well… we don’t get to pay Jesus back…
  • Thanks for dying on the cross… Guess I should… pray… give to my church… be nice to other folks…
  • If Jesus was willing to do that for me… I should be will to do some serious stuff for him…
  • Then we get in a mindset that we should be repaying God for all He has done… We begin to build a debtor’s ethic… dangerous because it robs God of the glory due Him. It isn’t about how we work to repay him… it is about how he continually and unceasingly works for us!
  • Gratitude is a better way… but a dangerous slope…
  • Sinful Woman Luke 7:36-50
  • Unforgiving Servant Matt. 18:23-35
    • Not explicitly gratitude
    • Difference between Gratitude and Debt
  •  It is about Glory not repayment.
  • It is about what God is doing through us…
  • Not what we are doing for God.
  • Not About Doing the Right Things

The Lure of Enabling Glory Giving

  • Rock Star 1st Pay check to by Mom a house
  • Wayne buying Walter a new TV room an satellite system…
  • Heart of gratitude….
  • Gratitude toward God… by Faith throught he grace given to us… is expressed in the joyful giving of glory!
  • NAU Jeremiah 31:33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
  • My people… God enables… God’s activity…
  • NAU Ezekiel 36:27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
  • Not you for me… ME FOR YOU!... enabling the giving of glory!
  • NAU Matthew 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
  • Who does it? Through whom does he do it?
  • God’s activity!
  • NAU Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
  • God released…. God empowered…
  • Are we passive… no
  • We are released and God empowered… Christ alive in us…
  • NAU 1 Corinthians 1:8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • Salvation, Sanctification, Justification, the Christian walk is not us living our purposes it God alive within us!
  • NAU Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
  • See… Transformation by…?
  • NAU Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
  • By God for God!
  • NAU Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
  • Anything I can do… Him in me.
  • Does this not give you some great sense of relief…
  • Hey… this is good! I recognize the depths of God’s grace
  • NAU 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;
  • May the Lord cause you…
  • Lazy Christian language… we often say the opposite…
  • I don’t want it to be from me… God certainly doesn’t… He wants the glory of providing all the payment and all power.
  • NAU Hebrews 13:21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
  • Holy Spirit in and equipping…
  • It isn’t paying off…. It is building our debt…
  • It is for His glory… not buying him off… paying back…
  • DRAW DEEPLY…. Like air for the believer… BREATHE!... and exhale….
  • The Lure of Enabling Glory Giving

The Increase of Debt to His Glory

  • From God
  • NAU Luke 9:1 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.
  • Power and Authority
      • From
      • For                   CHRIST
      • Thru
      • In
  • Not for self…
  • NAU Luke 12:33 "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.
  • Not to hoard material goods…
  • It is God who gives freely and we in turn give freely
  • Not building for ourselves… God’s reward
  • NAU Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
  • Nothing we give or have… can pay…God gives freely
  • NAU Hebrews 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," 6 so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?"
  •  Go in DEBT!
  • It is God who gives… help… reward… power… faith…. Salvation!
  • The Increase of Debt to His Glory

The Debtor’s Ethic… is a desire to serve… in a capacity that somehow repays…

Grace is unrepayable… Grace breeds joy… Celebration… Declaration…Gratitude…

Debt vs Grace…

  • NAU Romans 11:35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
  • What can you give the person who has everything?
  • NAU Romans 15:18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,
  •  Less of me and more of Him.
  • NAU 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I laboured even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
  •  Know who gives… experience it!
  • Gratitude versus Debt…
    • Gratitude is the species of joy which arises in your heart in response to the goodwill of someone who does or tries to do you a favour.
    • It is neither duty nor payment…. That is debt… it is a heartfelt response… not mitigating the debt… but recognizing it….
    • Gratitude is also for something intentional… God’s intentional act of Grace…
    • No Gratitude…. To Unintentional
    • No Gratitude… Reaction not directed to Giver
    • Gratitude… Response to Giver… (not payment…)
      • Pastor Golf… no one to tell….
  • Grace excludes the debtor’s ethic!
  • 1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
  •  It isn’t that I pay him back
  • It is that I draw more from him
    • Things of the Spirit
    • And I glorify him
    • For only the Spirit of God resident within can please God
    • The righteousness of Christ…Christ has given
    • He is the Giver…over and over again
    • Building and ever mounting debt
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
  • Grace feeds the ability to love, serve and declare… doesn’t repay the debt of Grace… makes us more indebted… to God… for His Glory
  • Salvation is by Grace… through Faith… alone.


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