If we want to buy a home in this day and age, we will have to obtain a mortgage. The idea of discharging our mortgage, paying it off, is a goal we work towards. We dream of the day in the future when we will be free of the burden of that mortgage, that debt. We believe debt is a burden we must endure to be able to own a home but one that we can in time pay off .
But the debt that Paul is talking about in this passage is different. And maybe debt, as we understand it, is not the best word. Some scholars translate this word as obligation.
Maybe the better word is that old-fashioned word “beholden.” It means owing something to someone who helped you. We have inherited this great gift from God, who loves us and has given us life. This gift that makes us beholden to God cannot be discharged. While the gift of grace is just that, a gift, there is also an obligation, a debt. Paul is reminding his readers, for those who choose to follow Christ, who call him Lord, they share in the glory, but also in the suffering.
We are beholden to God.
God of Grace, we are beholden to you for your love has made us your children. Amen. — LW