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We’re in debt to everybody

We’re in debt to everybody


It was Sunday morning.

I stood alone in the study of the active, growing church where I was the pastor and didn’t feel like preaching.

Hundreds of people awaited a sermon to help them with their many needs and build their faith, but I wasn’t up to the occasion. My busy schedule had caught up with me; I was weary and couldn’t seem to summon enough strength to walk through my study door and make my way to the pulpit.

Then I noticed an envelope on my desk addressed to “Pastor”.

Roger Campbell

Picking up the envelope and opening it, I read this encouraging message: “Thank you, Pastor, for one hundred sermons last year to grow on!”

Suddenly I wasn’t tired anymore. I was ready to minister to others, to serve, to encourage…because someone had encouraged me.

One person in my congregation had been sensitive enough to my needs to write a strength-giving note that proved a Biblical principle: “Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop, but a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25).

That note was enough to change my day and equip me to minister to others. One person deserved the credit for that morning’s sermon and when lasting rewards are given out I expect to hear our Lord say “Well done!” to my Sunday morning encourager.
We’re all guilty of neglecting to give good words to those who need them. And, according to the Bible, we’re obligated to change our thoughtless attitudes. We owe faith building words to all.

Paul, the apostle, considered himself in debt to everybody, writing: “I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and the unwise” (Romans 1:14). To discharge his obligation, this pioneer missionary went everywhere telling people of God’s love and sharing his faith in Christ with them.

Some people are so given to finding faults in others that they would never think of owing them words of encouragement. These critics spend their lives looking for reasons to complain about people rather than to encourage them.

An anonymous writer published his choice to build up rather than tear down as follows: “When we are given our rewards, I would prefer to be found to have erred on the side of grace rather than judgment; to have loved too much rather than too little; to have forgiven the undeserving rather than refused forgiveness to that one who deserved it; to have fed a parasite rather than to have neglected one who was truly hungry; to have been taken advantage of rather than to have taken undue advantage; to have believed too much in my brothers rather than too little; having been wrong on the side of too much trust than too much cynicism; to have believed the best and been wrong, rather than to have believed the worst and been right.”

One church member thought he owed his imperfect pastor a note of appreciation. He could have focused on my faults and written me concerning them. Instead, he chose to pay his debt with positive words that lifted me above fatigue and discouragement.

Who do you owe?

Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. Contact us at rcministry@ameritech.net