“. . . not able to pay you back.”

“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors—for they will invite you back, and in this way you will be paid for what you did.  When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind;  and you will be blessed, because they are not able to pay you back. God will repay you on the day the good people rise from death.’” (Luke 14:12-14)

“I owe you one,” is a phrase we often hear when someone does something nice for another.  Do we say it because it’s difficult for us to simply graciously receive an act of kindness with a simple, “Thank you,” or do we say it because we think the other person is keeping track and expecting to be repaid?  Maybe sometimes it’s a little of both . . .

What if we decided to classify folks by whether they’re a “you owe me” or “you don’t owe me” kind of person?  Ever thought about it that way?  I understand that reciprocity is an important feature in relationships.  One-sided giving is a recipe for disappointment in and dissolution of many relationships.  However, it seems to me that two “you don’t owe me” kinds of folks in a relationship are going to have a much different time of it than two “you owe me” types of folks trying to be together.  Think about it . . . How do you invite and give . . . “you owe me,” or, “you don’t owe me?”

Tomorrow Christians around the world will celebrate Maundy Thursday.  God’s table to which Jesus invites us is open to all.  Jesus invites without any sense of “you owe me.”  We call this “grace” – love freely given.  Maybe sometimes it’s difficult for us to accept grace because we expect there are strings attached – we expect to have to pay something back – to owe God.  When we freely let down our guard and accept God’s amazing gift of love in Jesus, we want to respond to others with love and serve God however we’re able.  Loving others and serving God is not a “payback.”  It’s not a response that comes because we somehow “owe God one.”  If that’s the way it feels, then it means we’ve not truly opened ourselves to receive God’s grace.  Maybe we’re somehow trying to control God and our responses by keeping everything in that “I owe you one” sort of arena.  Why might we be afraid to open ourselves for the Spirit to give us the fullness of God’s grace and simply say, “Thank you?”  Maybe that’s a question to ponder this Maundy Thursday . . .

I pray that God will help me ponder just that this Maundy Thursday as I make my way to Christ’s table.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on March 26, 2013.

One Response to “Payback”

  1. I am grateful that I don’t have to try to payback. God bless you brother.

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