I Am Debtor

By Luther Blackmon

In Romans 1: 14 Paul wrote, “I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise.” Paul did not mean that the Greeks and Barbarians had done anything for him personally that placed him under obligation to them. But God had done something for him that had placed him under obligation to all men-to men of all nations.

We have sometimes heard a fellow referred to as a “self-made man.” This is a gross exaggeration. Some have to work harder than others to achieve their goals. But no one is the product, solely, of his own making. If he were, he would be an inferior product. Since Dr. Steele gave me my first spanking and started me breathing that good Texas air, I have both needed and received help. And there are many people, both living and dead, to whom I am debtor.

I am debtor to my parents first of all, and for many reasons. It was through them, of course, that God gave me this earthly life. My parents have long since departed this life, but to some extent parents continue to live in their children, long after they are gone. There are only two of us left now: My brother Hollis, who lives in Houston, and I. Our parents were of the old school that thought children should not only respect their parents, but any older person. I cannot remember having answered either of my parents, when they called me, with what! I said Sir, when Papa called me, and Maam, when Mamma called. It may sound trivial to some, but it was just one of those rules that taught me and the other children to respect authority beginning with our parents. Pardon me if I seem presumptuous, but I feel certain that if such rules had been laid down and enforced by the parents of this generation, there would be at least a minimum of “loud-mouths”, and “vulgar -show-offs” on the streets and campuses now.

I am debtor to my school-teachers. Due to circumstances in my family, I had to quit school in the ninth grade. My father became semi invalid. But, even so, I had several school teachers. They likewise taught us respect for others, and particularly for school teachers, who were not only older than we, but who, in their position, should have the respect of the students. And they enforced these rules. When they could not enforce them, there was somebody who could. I have seen big, husky boys, almost grown, grab the switch out of the teacher’s hand, when she started to whip him, break it in pieces and throw it down. But it didn’t end there. The father of Mr. Big shot then came into the picture, and sonny boy had to stand and let that little girl school teacher whip him until she was ready to quit. But a goodly number of these boys grew up to be responsible men at Bald Prairie, Texas where all this took place. After I started preaching I went there for meetings two consecutive years, and baptized 58 people. Some of them were boys who had felt the teacher’s switch and had to say “Maam” instead of “what.”

I do not think that there is a great deal wrong in this country today that could not have been prevented if the Casper-Milquetoast law makers and law enforcers, and parents whose children can hardly do anything bad, had imbibed a little more of the spirit of the old fashioned parents and school-teachers.

The greatest debt that I or anyone else owes however is that which we owe to God our Creator and to Christ our Redeemer. If we fail in everything we undertake to accomplish in this life, except to live and die in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall have been eminently successful. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26)

April 20, 1972