Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Leaving Collateral

I accompanied my husband when he went to get a haircut. Reading a magazine, I found a hairstyle I liked for myself, and I asked the receptionist if I could take the magazine next door to make a copy of the photo.

"Leave some ID, a driver's license or a credit card," she said.

"But my husband is here getting a haircut," I explained.

"Yes," she replied. "But I need something you'll come back for."

We are familiar with the concept of collateral. Perhaps many of you have been in a situation, as I have in time past, where you pumped your gas or bought some groceries but then realized that you didn't have any cash. The cashier wanted something (usually a driver's license) as collateral to serve as proof that you would return to pay the full amount.

In the Old Testament, the word that is most often used to describe collateral is "pledge". You may recall the story of Jacob and Tamar in Genesis 38, where Judah had sex with Tamar, thinking that she was a prostitute. As payment, he offered to return home for a goat, but Tamar wanted collateral: "What will you give me a pledge till you send it?" (Gen. 38:17).

Under the Law of Moses, if you needed collateral, you could take a person's garment, but "If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down." (Exodus 22:26) because that's what he used to keep warm at night.

In the New Testament, the word that is most often used to describe the idea of collateral is "guarantee". Three times (2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:14), the apostle Paul says that God has given us His Holy Spirit as a "guarantee" that there is more to come. We can be assured that God will keep all of His promises and give us great blessings (including a home in heaven) because we have the Spirit to serve as collateral.

"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." (2 Cor. 5:4-5)

Trust me, that's something God is definitely coming back for!


  1. I'm guessing you didn't really mean to say that you accompanied your "husband" to get his hair cut, did you? :-)

    Interesting thought, to view the Holy Spirit as collateral.

    As always, I enjoyed today's thought. Thanks for the effort you put into these.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  2. Maybe I should be more clear when I'm using a story of someone else's experience! LOL

  3. Hi Alan,

    What are you saying God is definitely
    coming back for? His Spirit?? But isn't
    the Father (God), the Son (God), and the
    Spirit (God) one person ... and if that
    is so ... why would he come back for
    Himself?? Oh, Let's just blame it on
    my Catholic School upbringing ... they
    always confused me in one way or another!
    A penny for your thoughts : )

    In Friendship & Peace,
    Amazing Grace

  4. Grace,

    I don't dare to try to explain the trinity in a couple of paragraphs! For now, let me simply say that, yes, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "one", but there are times they are "separated" as they operate in this world. Even at the baptism of Jesus, you have the Father speaking from heaven, Jesus being baptized on earth, and the Spirit descending from one to the other.

    During his ministry, you have Jesus saying such things as, "If I do not go away, the Helper [Holy Spirit] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7). So, Jesus was on earth and the Holy Spirit was in heaven. When Jesus went back to heaven, the Holy Spirit came to earth. And all the while, they were both "one" with the Father! The difficulty in understanding has nothing to do with Catholic school upbringing and everything to do with our finite minds trying to wrap our minds around an infinite God.

    If it helps, view the Spirit within us as a "piece" of God that will remain until we enjoy the "fullness" of God. Though using language like this makes me somewhat uncomfortable, you may find it helpful.