Are you Stressing over Fully Paid Bills?
I recently walked into a friend’s house. He was sitting at his kitchen table, head in his hands, staring at a pile of bills. He looked up at me and moaned about how all these bills were weighing heavily on him. The stack was pretty high so I could easily understand why he was so stressed out. That is until I walked over and noticed that the bill on top of the pile was marked paid in full. That startled me –so much so that I paged through the whole pile. Every single bill was marked the same way. I looked at my friend and said, “Why are you so stressed out? These bills have all been paid!”
Probably by now you have figured out that this is not a true story. Obviously, no one would be foolish enough to do that. But I have regularly seen people do this very thing with debts of a much more serious nature – their sins. We often talk about our debt of sin. But the Bible emphasizes that, because of Jesus’ death, that debt has been paid – paid in full. In fact, that is the very thing Jesus cried out from his cross when he exclaimed, “It is finished”. That was an expression often used in the Greek culture to mark a bill, “paid in full”. Paul uses similar imagery when he wrote to the Colossians: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (2:13-14). In other words, Paul says, that Jesus took all our IOUs , and canceled them by nailing them to the cross.
That is the whole point of our being forgiven. Our debt of sin has been forgiven. God has forgiven it on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. And he has forgotten it. “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (Hebrews 10:17-18).
Therefore think of the message we are sending God when we still worry about our sins. Since he is the one who paid our debt, he could easily think that we don’t think he is very trustworthy. Think of how I would have felt in the above illustration if I was the one who had paid all those bills? I would have eagerly walked into that house expecting the man to be overjoyed and filled with gratitude. But instead to be met with despair and worry? I think I would be more than a little perturbed.
Just as importantly, think of what message we are sending to all the people around us when we still fret over our sins. We are giving them little reason to become interested in Jesus. In fact, we could be unintentionally telling them that something was wrong with Jesus’ payment for our sins. And that, my friends, is definitely a message we don’t want to send!
In striking contrast, the message of God’s forgiveness has a strong pull on people. It is like a huge magnet drawing them to him. It is the answer to all their prayers.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God is pleased to see you wallowing in guilt. Yes, that does show that you are taking sin seriously. But it also sends the message that you are not taking his forgiveness as seriously as he desires. In fact, instead of helping us be Christ-centered, stressing over our sins really is a form of self-centeredness. Instead of focusing on you and what you have done – focus on Christ and what he has done – for you. That my friends, gives him great praise, gives you great joy, and gives your friends and family a wonderful example of the tremendous difference Jesus makes in a person’s life.
Your debt has been paid in full! Rejoice and praise God for that!