I’m not talking about those friends whose full name is William, nor am I talking about those Bills that play football in Buffalo, and I not talking about that Wild West character from of old known as Buffalo Bill, no, I am talking about the paper and electronic demands that keep coming, month after month, requiring payment for services rendered. Bills.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I avoid my bills or believe they do not deserve to be paid. They do. However, all too often I have forgotten the benefits I have received for the services rendered for which I must write a check of gratitude. The benefits have become invisible because I now take them for granted. Let me give you a few examples:
- I don’t think much about the natural gas that goes into my furnace to heat the home. No, I simply appreciate the consistent heat to the point where I no longer have to think about it. It is there. I benefit. I don’t think about the supplier nor the delivery process.
- And what about the cable service? I sit down and watch the evening news, turn the channel and catch a bit of sports, can’t forget Jeopardy (gotta keep the mind alert). It has become part of life, like breathing. But think about it? Not really. It is just there. I enjoy it but pay for it? Why? What service does it really render?
- And think about trash removal. Oh, I know, we have various containers to separate the trash from the recyclables. I know, we must pull the trash container out to the curb on our designated morning. But then it simply disappears. I don’t see the hands that deal with my trash nor do I see the hands that process it at the other end or the landfill that stores my trash along with that from thousands of other households and businesses.
Invisible. The services of which my bills remind me have become invisible. As a result, when I get the notification and am forced to sit down and acknowledge the services I have received and pay my debt for those services rendered, I get annoyed. Bills.
We are coming to the conclusion of our study on the Lord’s Prayer. One of the phrases in that prayer is “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” at least that is how we Presbyterians say it. So often when we hear this phrase we think of the sins that we have committed, behaviors that deserve punishment. We believe that Jesus took that punishment upon himself and therein our debt has been paid. Our indebtedness to God is a life of gratitude. But is that all of our debt to God? Are there other services we receive for which we should express our gratitude for services rendered? Think about these:
- The breath of life (Genesis 2:7)
- Your gifts and skills (Deuteronomy 8:10-18…especially 18)
- Rules for successful living (Exodus 20:1-20)
- Forgiveness of sin (1 John 1:9)
Add this one in as well:
- Who determined when and where you would be born? What in your character or nature determined that you ought to be born in the 20th century, in the Western world, in the United States of America? Maybe this is something for which to be thankful.
The prayer does not call these benefits “bills.” However, what would happen if these benefits were removed from our lives? The impact would be huge, life altering, life threatening, just like losing our heat or the trash not being picked up or being cut off from our communication links to the world. We owe God. But, because we have experienced God’s grace, because we have blessings, because they have become part of our lives, they become common place, they become invisible.
So, how do we pay our “bill” to God? Think about these things:
- Jesus said the greatest command was to “Love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, and mind. ” Matthew 22:37.
- The writer of Hebrews says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16
- The Apostle Paul puts it this way, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
- Jesus said it this way: “Forgive us our bills as we forgive the bills for which we are awaiting payment from others.” Matthew 6:13
So, how are you doing in acknowledging the services you receive from God? Are your bills in arrears or are you update?