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Sep 19, 2021

What We Owe Each Other

What We Owe Each Other

Passage: Genesis 4:3-5

Speaker: Rev. Michael Pestel

Series: Win-Win

What We Owe to Each Other by Michael Pestel Genesis 4:3-5 Romans 13:8-10

Indebtedness in general means an explicit/implicit agreement has been reached about something with someone. What did I agree to? What is my end of the bargain? What do I owe? Do I think or feel it is important for others to make good on what they owe me?

In a win-lose world, agreements have a place until they are of no use for profit of self.

“I owe you everything” “I don’t owe you ANYTHING” “You owe me!” There’s real primordial emotion around these expressions.

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. (Genesis 4:3-5)

We’re really given no clue as to why God “had regard” for Able’s offering but not Cain’s. Maybe Cain didn’t really know why either. But in some way, Cain is left sensing that he didn’t fulfill his end of the agreement. It stings him. Have you ever felt a sting like that?

And it’s here that Cain, standing in for you and me, can either be driven by curiosity or resentment.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

This is the first question asked by a human in the bible. Some rabbis teach that the remainder of the bible is God’s attempt to answer that question.

What do I owe my fellow human? Am I to keep them? Keep track of them? Keep them alive? Keep a relationship with them? What do we owe each other?

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

“Love is at the root of everything. All learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love, or the lack of it.” – Fred Rogers

Notice I’m not declaring we owe perfection to each other… we simply owe love. This is John Wesley’s idea of being made wholly right, sanctified. It is that love becomes the driving force of our thought, word, and deed.

“God of deep love, you loved us before we had the inclination to love you. You have decided to be our keeper. We live in gratitude that you pay attention to us, that you have care for what comes of our lives. Lord, may our hearts take on this very shape when it comes to our love of you and love of each other. May we pay attention, may we bless and keep one another. Continue to guide us to the intersection of deep gladness and deep hunger. We give you thanks. In Jesus’ name, amen.”