I have to admit I was a little jealous when I saw on Facebook that the Cranes were on a family trip to Dominica. Sharmon went to college with Wendy and I which was when she began dating Ben and we’ve been friends ever since. However their trip didn’t begin real well, at least not for Stephanie, their oldest daughter, whose luggage the airline managed to send to an unknown location. She had to manage without it for the entire trip because they never did track it down.
But when they got home something amazing happened. WestJet, which was not the airline they were travelling with, called Stephanie saying they had her luggage. From a previous flight she still had a WestJet ID tag on her bag and not only did they have it but they told her they would deliver it to their home the next day.
I’m not sharing this as a promotion for WestJet, and neither am I suggesting they had any purer motives than a brilliant business plan in customer service, but their actions are an excellent illustration of a word in the Bible that typically we don’t like: ought, as in we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves. (Romans 15:1)
Other words are sometimes translated as “ought” but here it literally means indebted, and often when you see it in the New Testament it is describing how we are to relate to one another. In the illustration WestJet chose to become indebted to Stephanie even though the fault wasn’t theirs and if fact they could have said it serves her right for not flying with them.
The point is that we choose to become indebted to others rather than seeking to please ourselves, not to gain some advantage, but because we are indebted to Jesus and therefore follow his lead. Hebrews 2:17 literally says he became indebted to us in order that he might pay the price for our sin with his life. So we pray “forgive us our debt (same word) as we forgive our debtors.” In response to what Jesus has done for us, we “ought” to serve others rather than please ourselves. We “ought” to live as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). We “ought” to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16). Since God loved us so much we “ought” to love, expressed in service to each other (1 John 4:11) ahead of pleasing ourselves.