The Great Debt

Ali and his family lived in a small village where he operated a little shop that provided barely enough to support himself and his family.

One day Ali heard from a friend that better jobs were available in another country far away from his own native land. There, his friend promised, he could earn enough money to take good care of his family and even save money for the future.

Ali, without seeking additional information, decided to seek his fortune in this new land. With the money from the sale of his shop he was able to pay for his travel and provided a small amount for his family. He hoped his family would be able to come and join him a little later. With a little balance to help him settle in his new land, he departed.

He found a small, plain place to live, paying a minimum deposit for rent. He began to look for work. Daily he continued his search. Daily the balance of his funds decreased. Sad to say, finding work was very hard. Without work, how could he eat? He knew that soon he could not pay his rent.

After two months, his landlord came to collect the rent. “Sir,” said Ali. “Please have patience with me. I haven’t found work and therefore am not able to pay what I owe you.” The landlord, a kindly man, looked at Ali with sympathy and agreed to wait for the payment of the debt.

Daily Ali sought work; alas, he failed! In the third month the landlord returned and Ali was filled with shame. With these words he finally broke his long silence: “Sir, people say that you are a generous and merciful man. Forgive me the debt of the past three months. From now on I shall surely be able to pay you.”

“True,” said the landlord, “I am a merciful and generous man, but I am a just man also. You must pay your debt. The future payments of future debts will not cover payments for past debts. Allow me to advise you not to let your debts build up until they begin to choke you.” With these words the landlord departed.

A few months passed and the time of the great fast was upon him. At the end of the fast Ali had nothing with which to break the fast except dry bread. His debt hung upon him like a heavy iron chain. Ali lived in fear because he was certain that his landlord would return at the time of the Great Feast. Without doubt the landlord would throw him into the street, if he could not pay his rent. He would become a homeless man in a strange land.

Then it was the time of the Great Feast. Ali had no sheep to kill and no suitable garments with which to clothe himself. He went from friend to friend, begging for help. Each replied: “Brother, you and I have the same problem. I cannot give or lend you what I do not have. I also am a debtor and wait for whatever will come to me.”

The following day he fasted, bowed his head in his hands and wondered what would happen to him. His thoughts turned from sadness to anger and hate.

Late, that night, there was a knock on Ali’s door. The landlord’s son stood before him. Ali, filled with anger, told the landlord’s son that he did not wish to see him.

The landlord’s son however spoke gentle words of friendship. “My brother, I have come to bring you good news. My father and I have seen your poverty and are sorry for you. We know that you also feel bad because you are so far away from your native country. It is true that my father is a just man and that he therefore cannot simply forgive your debt. Yet out of concern for you he has kindly encouraged me to sell a portion of my inheritance for you. This I have done. The money to cover your debt is with me. I gladly give it to you. Tomorrow go to my father and boldly give it to him – and God be with you.”

Ali looked at the landlord’s son with anger and arrogantly replied: “I have nothing to do with you and am in no need of your help. When I see your father, I shall look after myself. Take your money and go.” Throwing the money in the son’s face, Ali sent him away. The landlord’s son remained silent. Looking at Ali with sorrow, he quietly departed.

The following day the landlord knocked. Though still angry and not knowing what to do, Ali threw himself at the landlord’s feet, begging him for mercy and pardon.

The landlord replied: “Last night I sent mercy and pardon to you in the person of my son. You accepted neither. Your opportunity is now gone; I have no other means by which to have mercy on you.”

What could Ali say? At that very hour, his fear became real. He was turned out of the house into the street and the door was locked. From house to house and town to town he begged. Finally, the day came when, suffering from severe cold and hunger, he died. He was far from his land, his people, his friends, and his loved ones.

Learning From the Story
Friend, are you too like Ali? From the time you first understood the difference between good and evil, your debt has increased before God. Often you have done things that God forbids. You neglected to do the things that he has commanded of you. From time to time you have made promises to do right and not to do wrong. By so doing, you have thought God would wipe out your debt.

But you are mistaken. Your good plans and promises, your repentance and good works, even your prayers and fasts can never pay for your sins of the past. Doing good works now is your duty now. Your works in the future are your duty for the future. Just as Ali in the story if he found a job and began paying his rent, it would not pay for his back rent. Jesus the Messiah said in the Holy Injil, “Servants don’t deserve special thanks for doing what they are supposed to do. And that’s how it should be with you. When you’ve done all you should, then, say, ‘We are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty'”1. In other words, doing your duty now and in the future cannot wipe away your sins of the past.

Nor can others, even prophets and saints help you in paying for your sins because they too are human, as you are. They too have their debts to pay to God and have sought their refuge in Him alone. Everyone must give account of himself or herself alone before the righteous God on the Day of Judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”2.

God sees that you too have no way to pay the debt of your sins, and He knows better than anyone else that the Day of Judgment is near. Therefore, He has had mercy on you and has sent you a way of escape, the sinless Messiah. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”3. As the landlord sent his son to Ali, so God has sent His special spiritual Son, Jesus the Messiah, to bring you this wonderful news. Indeed this Jesus is the Redeemer of the world. Through Him, God has provided redemption from sin and death for all people. Through Him you can be right with God. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”4.

Yes, God has sent the Messiah, His eternal Word, to restore peace and friendship between you and God. He gave up His glorious inheritance when He left the heavens to come down to earth. The Holy Injil says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”5. In His life He lived for you. In His death, He died for you. In His sacrifice on the cross He has purchased God’s pardon for you. Today He is offering you a wonderful pardon. A pardon sealed by the Messiah’s resurrection from the dead!

Dear friend, no one can purchase pardon for you nor for another. Pardon is a gift of God, which He alone can give and offer. Do not add to the sum of your sins and guilt by rejecting God’s gift of pardon in the Messiah. Before it is too late accept the Messiah as God’s holy and loving price that He has paid for your pardon and peace. Surrender to God through Jesus your Redeemer.

Jesus said in the Holy Injil: “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart. And you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”6.

If you want to have the victory over sin and to learn more about the principles of this important subject, we are ready to send you, free of charge a correspondence course.

  1. Holy Bible, Book of Luke 17:9-10, Contemporary English Version 

  2. Holy Bible, Book of 2 Corinthians 5:10, New International Version 

  3. Holy Bible, Book of Romans 3:22-26, NIV 

  4. Holy Bible, Book of Romans 6:23, NIV 

  5. Holy Bible, Book of Mark 10:45, NIV 

  6. Holy Bible, Book of Matthew 11:28-30, NIV