Imagine getting a phone call today that someone had paid off your medical and car debt. Completely. With no strings attached.
That’s what happened to eight thousand people recently.
Dave Ramsey is known to most of us as the host of The Dave Ramsey Show, which is heard by more than sixteen million listeners each week. He is a personal finance expert and seven-time #1 best-selling author. Since 1992, he has been helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, and enhance their lives.
As he explained in a recent article, “I always tell my team that we are blessed for one reason, and that is so we can be a blessing to others.” So, his company bought medical and car debt totaling $10 million from two private debt collection companies and completely forgave it. He reports that “every Ramsey Solutions team member got to make phone calls and deliver the good news.”
Ramsey anticipates our question: “Why the heck would anyone scoop up $10 million worth of debt and pay it off just like that?” Here’s his explanation: “Well, the answer is simple—to show the love of Jesus Christ. You see, this whole completely forgiving a debt thing has been done before—by him. No other gift could compare to that one, but we felt this was one small way we could continue to pass on that love.”
Was Jesus merely a “great teacher”?
Yesterday, we explored the fact that Christmas is still relevant today because Christ is still relevant today. Now let’s build on Dave Ramsey’s statement by focusing on one very practical consequence of Christmas for our souls and culture.
A recent survey reported that 51 percent of Americans believe “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” Only 37 percent disagreed; 12 percent were not sure.
If Jesus was not God, he could not forgive our sins. It is therefore unsurprising that only 28 percent of Americans stated in a LifeWay survey, “I am a sinner, and I depend on Jesus Christ to overcome sin.” More than one in three admitted that they were sinners but stated, “I work on being less of one.”
Nearly a fourth of all responders said either “sin does not exist” (10 percent), “I am not a sinner” (8 percent), or “I am a sinner, and I am fine with that” (5 percent). Another 15 percent said, “I prefer not to say,” which seems an unlikely response for someone who is trusting in Christ for forgiveness.
If I wanted everyone on earth to die of a fatal but medically curable cancer, my first job would be to infect everyone with this malignancy. Next, I would try to convince people that their disease does not exist. That way, they’d ignore its symptoms until it’s too late.
If they didn’t believe me, I would try to convince them that they can cure their disease without medical help. That way, they’d refuse the treatment that would save their lives. If they didn’t believe me and sought medical treatment that cures their disease, I would try to convince them to keep the news to themselves.
Is this not precisely what Satan does with the disease of sin (2 Corinthians 4:4)?
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven”
The good news is that Jesus came at Christmas to die on Good Friday in payment for our sins. As Dave Ramsey said, “This whole completely forgiving a debt thing has been done before—by him.”
Our forgiveness was always God’s plan. His desire for sinful humans is to “forgive their iniquity” and “remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34; cf. Isaiah 43:25). This is why our Father “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Now we can testify, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). We can bring our sins to his grace, knowing that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
We can know that he then removes our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) and casts them “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
As Kierkegaard noted: “God creates out of nothing. Wonderful, you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”
“There are only two kinds of men”
If you have accepted the Christmas gift of Jesus’ forgiveness, you have two choices to make today.
One: You can keep it to yourself, or you can offer it to those who need what you have received. With whom have you shared the good news of God’s love recently?
Two: You can make no changes in your life, or you can work with his Spirit in producing the character that reflects his holiness to the world. If our culture doesn’t see a practical difference in the lives of those who receive God’s grace, why would they want what we have?
Blaise Pascal offered the paradoxical observation, “There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe themselves sinners; the rest, sinners, who believe themselves righteous” (Pensees 533). The more we believe ourselves to be sinners, the more likely we are to repent of our sins, refuse temptation, and thus become “righteous.” The more we believe ourselves to be righteous, the less likely we are to repent of our sins, refuse temptation, and thus become “sinners.”
A wise mentor once said to me, “The closer you get to God, the further away you realize you are.”
How close to God are you today?
NOTE: For more, see my video, “What does the Bible say about grace?“