A few years ago Sergio was going through a severe financial crisis. He had gotten himself so deeply in debt that even if he could have sold everything he had twice, he still would not be able to repay all he owed. He had taken out a large loan in a foreign currency and, due to a sudden and extreme change in the exchange rate, his debt was now far greater than the original sum he had borrowed--and that was only a fraction of Sergio's overall debt. Sergio's main creditor was his father-in-law, who was a very wealthy old man.
One day the old man called Sergio and said, "I know you're going through rough times, and I want to help you. You don't have to continue the monthly payments on the money you borrowed from me. Actually, I'd like to forgive the debt altogether."
That would have given Sergio enough financial leeway to renegotiate his debt with the bank and keep his company afloat, but Sergio refused the offer. "I can't let you do that, sir. It's a matter of principle. I must pay back all I owe you."
The old man tried to reason with Sergio. "What you've been paying monthly doesn't even cover the interest on the money I loaned you. Besides, you happen to be married to my only daughter. When I die--and it won't be long--all I have will be hers and yours. This is not a matter of principle, but stupid pride."
But Sergio stubbornly held on to his decision. He continued in his futile attempt to restore to his father-in-law what he had borrowed from him, but not for long. Soon Sergio became insolvent and lost his company and almost everything else he had--all because of pride!
Of course, we should pay our debts and do all we can to remain solvent. That is part of our testimony as Christians. However, Sergio's refusal to accept his father-in-law's pardon was foolish, since he was soon to become co-heir of all the old man had, including the meager amounts Sergio was repaying toward his debt.
Sergio was like many people who refuse the pardon God so generously offers humankind, who insist on trying to make restitution themselves. They try, through their good works, sacrifice, and self-denial to repay the unrepayable, when they could so easily turn a page and start writing a new story for their lives by receiving Jesus as their Savior and accepting His payment for their sins and shortcomings.
Jesus offers a pardon to every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth. All we have to do is say, "Yes, Jesus, I need Your forgiveness. There is no way I can make up for all my selfish and unloving deeds. The only way I can be free from this debt is by accepting Your sacrifice on the cross for my sins. Thank You for dying for me!"
Mário Sant'Ana is a full-time volunteer with The Family International in Brazil.