Debtors to God and Men

Patrick reminds us what we owe God and our neighbors.

The Celtic Revival: Patrick (10)

Because I owe so much to God. He gave
me this great boon: That through me He would save
so many heathen, who would be confirmed
as followers of Christ; that in my term
a clergy should be raised to care for them –
so many thousands of the finest men
of Ireland; and that churches by the scores
of hundreds should be built, where they adore
the Lord of glory; and that thousands should
be taught to read the Scriptures, that the good
and perfect will of God they might discern,
that they to follow Him in love might learn.
The Lord redeemed this holy people from
the ends of the earth, just as He said through some
of the prophetic writings, “All your vain
and empty idols are to you no gain
at all.” Again, “For I have placed you for
a light among the nations ever more,
that you might bring salvation to the ends
of all the earth.” And all of this depends
on Him, and on His mercy, not on me.

- Patrick, Confession (5th century)

I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

- Romans 1.14, 15

Patrick saw himself as indebted to God for the grace of forgiveness extended to him while he was a slave in Ireland, and for the care with which He sustained Patrick and brought him back to his home in the west of Britain after six years. He did not take the grace of God for granted, but made himself available to serve the Lord, however He might wish.

Undoubtedly, Patrick prayed frequently, asking the Lord, in effect, “What shall I render to the Lord

for all His benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116.12) God’s answer came in the form of the vision of the man from Ireland, calling Patrick to return and to labor among them.

And labor he did! Patrick’s sense of indebtedness to God overflowed, like Paul’s, in a life of owing others the privilege of hearing the Good News of Jesus. He devoted himself to this as he cashed in his inheritance and left for Ireland, against the wishes of family and clergy. There he received training and ordination, after which he took up the work he summarizes in our quote for today.

Patrick evangelized the lost, leading many thousands to faith in Jesus. He identified able men among those new converts, and took them on as his disciples, training them to do the work of ministry. These men helped Patrick start churches all over Ireland. They taught literacy to a people without an alphabet, so that they could read the Bible for themselves. They helped people lay aside the idols and immoral practices of their pagan ways, and to take up the path of discipleship as followers of Jesus. Patrick and those who joined him laid the foundations of a revival of Christian faith that would last for nearly 400 years and have an impact throughout Europe.

All this with no diploma, no support, no credentials, but no fear.

And Patrick saw all these labors not merely as what he owed to God, but as gifts of God, a great boon from the infinite treasury of His mercy and love.

Each of us is in the same place as Patrick and Paul: We are debtors to God and debtors to men. We owe to God whatever He commands or requires of us, but especially that we might drink the cup of salvation to the full and be thereby transformed increasingly into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And we owe to our neighbors – the people in our Personal Mission Fields – the love of Christ and the proclamation of His Good News. We are debtors to God and men. Are we ready, as much as in us is, to live and proclaim the Gospel like Patrick and Paul?

For who knows what winds of revival might be unleashed once we have begun to work out our debt to God and men?

Psalm 116.10-14 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Afflicted, I believe His Word, though lying men would undo me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?
Salvation’s cup I lift above and call upon the God of love
And pay my vows most truly.

Thank You, Lord, for saving and sustaining grace! Remind me each day what I owe to You and to my neighbors, and help me today to…

Mission Partners Outreach

Our Mission Partners Outreach can help you follow God’s call to share the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom with the people in your Personal Mission Field. The training and materials are free, and the program is available in two formats, and can be used in your Bible study group or Sunday school class. Watch this brief video (click here), and download the informational flyer to learn more.

The Legacy of Patrick
Patrick made a lasting impact on Ireland and Europe, igniting a revival that lasted for nearly four centuries. He has left for us a legacy of priorities which we can appropriate for our own walk with and work for the Lord. Order your copy of The Legacy of Patrick from our online store (click here).

Like Patrick, we depend on the Lord to support our ministry, which He does through friends who pray for us and share their gifts with us, as the Lord leads. As you pray today, ask the Lord whether He might use you to support this work. You can do so by clicking the Contribute buttonat our website, or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Thank you.

T. M. Moore

All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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