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Debts of Gratitude December 2, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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Philipians 4:10-20
I owe many people many debts of gratitude. I am attempting to pay back my debts of gratitude in a way that honors God and the benevolence of the giver.
While I was in the Army, I was invited to go out fishing with a couple of NCO’s. I was just a private, but they invited me just the same. As it got dark and cold, we headed back towards the barracks but stopped for a quick supper at Taco Bell first. I did not have any money with me at the time so one of them bought my supper for me. It probably did not add up to five dollars, but I felt compelled to pay him back. I told him I had some cash in the barracks and would pay him back when we returned. He said, “Do you really want to pay me back? Here’s what you do; someday you will be the old sarge and there will be some young private with nothing. Pay for his meal. That will pay me back.” I have never forgotten that and have sought out opportunities to pay him back many, many times.
I remember when there was just not enough. I started to college in 1991, right after high school. I decided it wasn’t for me and joined the Army. After I got out of the Army I got married and moved back to my hometown in Idaho. There, I started back to college, this time with renewed interest and determination. I had numerous jobs. It seemed I needed a different job with each new semester due to schedule changes. After a couple of years, we decided to move back to my wife’s hometown in Louisiana. I skipped a semester and started again. I changed majors a couple of times all the while working different jobs for minimal income because I could not get in many hours due to my classes. After graduation, I intended to start work as a teacher. I taught one semester before moving to New Orleans to attend seminary. It was not enough time to really get caught up on debts, bills and loans that accumulated over the many years of college. From New Orleans, we kept our ties to Lake Charles; the church we attended and the National Guard unit I was part of. We commuted in at least once a month. We stayed with various people. There was never enough money for fuel and expenses, but there were benevolent people along the way that contributed because they believed in what we were doing. One man in particular; I will call him ‘Jack.’ Jack was a funny old guy. He shook hands funny. He would roll up one finger in his palm and say, “Excuse the wart.” He would barely take your hand and say, “Am I hurtin’ you?” Very often when he would shake my hand there would be a $100 bill in it. It seemed as though every time we came into town this happened. It was often the money we needed to pay for food, gas or some bill until my next pay check. I told him once, “You know there’s no way I can ever pay you back, don’t you?” He told me the way I could pay him back was to be the best preacher possible. He said I should keep studying and do great things. He died not too many years ago. I am still paying off those debts.
Here Paul is so moved by the generosity shown to him by the people of Philippi that he sends heartfelt thanksgiving to them for their love and assistance to him in his ministry. There would never be a way for him to repay the generosity and benevolence shown to him by them but, he would strive to honor them the best he knew how. His mention of his contentment is only in reference to their contributions which made his imprisonment bearable. God supplied Paul’s needs and he used the Philippians to accomplish it. God would supply the needs of the people who gave in support of Paul, especially those who gave above and beyond their means. They gave in faith that God would supply their needs as well. Paul recognized this and wrote to thank them by remembering all the times of the past they had helped. He had established the church in the town. They were now living out true devotion and love by ministering to Paul in monetary form. God receives the honor when His people demonstrate love in their contributions without concern for themselves or expecting anything in return.
Do you have debts of gratitude to others like I do? Don’t forget to pay them as you have opportunity.



1. Shannon Frohardt - December 2, 2010

Great message — something we all should try to do whenever possible.

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