Recently I was listening to a radio commercial aimed at people who were in debt. The message was simple: If you are in debt, call your creditors and offer to pay 30% of what you owe. Because so many people simply walk away from their obligations, this company was advising that any creditor will be thrilled to get something from you. They will be glad to take the thirty percent, cancel the rest, and your credit will not be harmed. The commercial then went on to advise that you not let your creditor pressure you into paying any more than thirty percent. You have your rights—they advised, and so don’t let them intimidate you.
I was shocked! Since when does the borrower hold the power to negotiate? Proverbs 22:7 states that “the borrower is servant to the lender.” God holds us responsible for that which we owe and vow to pay. Sadly, the attitude so often today is to bribe, barter, or negotiate our way out of our responsibilities.
Although this practice may be common and acceptable, the Bible makes it clear that there are some things that we cannot negotiate. God has already established how a person gets to heaven— it is not open to negotiation. In John 14:6 Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” There may be many ways to get from Los Angeles to New York City, but there is only one way to Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
For the Christian, obeying God is not open to negotiation. In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Notice it doesn’t say “they should follow me” or “I wish they would follow me.” If we are a sheep—we will follow. If we are not following— we are not a sheep! That may sound harsh, but John, the beloved disciple, is even more blunt: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3–4) It doesn’t sound like we get to negotiate about how obedient we are going to be. If God commands it—we are obligated to obey.
God’s will for our life is not open to negotiation. Romans 11:29 says: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” God doesn’t change His mind just because we don’t feel like fulfilling His plan for our life. We are His workmanship created for an express purpose. No one else was built to do what we have been gifted and called to do.
Thirty percent may satisfy your credit card company, but 30% or 99% compliance to the plan of salvation will not get you into Heaven. Half-hearted obedience will always come up 50% short. When it comes to God’s will, we should desire to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12)