Does God Ever Owe Us Anything?

"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay Him?" Romans 11:35.

Among other things, the Lord's people are called to humble themselves before the power, knowledge and wisdom of God. We are to seek to know His mind as he has revealed it in the Scriptures, and to allow Him, through God the Holy Spirit, to guide, lead and direct us in all things.

Like Job, we need to put our hands over our mouths (Job 40:4), and freely confess that His ways are too wonderful for our minds (Job 42:3). Or as Isaiah helps us realize: "For my thoughts are not Your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord" (Isa 55:8).

In Rom 11:35 (see above), Paul quotes from the book of Job itself as he continues to extol the greatness of God in comparison to human beings. It is of course a rhetorical question. The context of Paul's hymn of praise (Rom 11:33-36) tells us the answer is no.

But of course it is true that we give to God. As the Lord's people, we offer Him our money, time, service, and so forth (or at least we should!). So what is Paul saying here? What does he mean? The key to understanding this verse 35 lies in the second part:"...that God should repay him." Simply put, the verse is asking whether anyone has ever given to God to such an extent that God was thereby placed in that person's debt.

When we consider the verse in this light, the answer is obviously negative. God is the great Giver, whose generosity to all of His creatures, both saved and unsaved, far, far outpaces their giving to Him. In fact, anything we have to give Him has come to us from Him, for He "has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3a). "We may give to God, as the people did when David appealed to them for offerings for the temple [1 Chron 29]," Dr James M Boice writes. "But what we give is only what God has first given to us."

Perhaps the deeper truth here is that God has no need of our gifts. He is entirely self-sufficient. He has no need for our money (He gave it to us) or for our service (His power is sufficient to accomplish all His ends, though He often chooses to work through people).

Being entirely content and fulfilled in Himself, He does not require our affection or worship. There is no need in God that we can even begin to meet - He is all-sufficient, powerful etc. "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? The answer is: No one, not even the most dedicated, most self-sacrificing, most consistent, most devout, most exemplary Christian," Boice writes.

And yet, it is altogether right and good that we do give to Him, for giving is one way to express our love for Him. We cannot put God in our debt by giving to Him. But we must recognize that He has put us in His debt by all He has given to us, and the realization of that truth, and more importantly our love for the Lord Jesus Christ, should motivate us to give Him everything we have.

CHALLENGE: What do you give to God? Do you give Him your best? Or does He receive only your leftovers of money, time, possessions, gifts etc? Take the time to realise prayerfully how deeply in debt you are to God, and the tremendous love He has shown you on the Cross. Then think about the changes you will need to make in your life, in order to give Him your very best.

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