I’m doing fine

Today the glories of spring returned, after several days of rain. We needed the rain, and now it’s time for some sunshine. This Global Warming thing is working out pretty well so far, if you ask me. I mowed the lawn tonight. I’m definitely convinced it’s just a tad less goshawful than it was this time last year.

I had an interesting encounter at work today. I shall, needless to say, draw a Moral Lesson from it, for the edification of all.

We have a foreign student at the school who was running up a pretty large library fine. He’d kept some books overdue, and one book he’d lost completely. His fines accumulated as they remained unpaid, and I was worried about it getting out of hand.

I spoke to the instructor in his program one day a while back, and said I thought we’d have to come to some kind of settlement, to get him out from under. But the instructor said no. “We have to teach our students responsibility.” At least that’s what I understood him to say. So I stepped back and allowed the totals to mount up.

Last week the student came in, along with an American friend. He offered me some money (not the whole amount). I told him I could take it and reduce the fine, but that he’d still have to pay off the total. At that point his friend became quite upset, and they left. The friend said he’d come back with cash and pay the whole amount himself, and that this was not demonstrating the love of Christ.

After that I went back to the instructor and told him what had happened. The instructor said we probably needed to make some kind of settlement. I said I wanted to, but I wasn’t allowed to.

“Who told you that?” he asked.

“You did,” I said.

He became very apologetic then. Somewhere we had miscommunicated. I’m not sure how it happened, but he hadn’t meant it the way I took it.

Anyway, it got worked out. I accepted the smaller amount the student himself was able to pay, and it’s all settled. Relief reigns among the stacks.

Today the American friend came in and apologized. I told him I understood completely, and that I’d probably have reacted the same way.

It was a very godly act on his part, but when you get down to it, I did handle it wrong. Instead of simply doing what I was told, I should have questioned a decision I considered unreasonable. If I’d done that, the whole thing would have been worked out weeks ago, and much unpleasantness avoided.

It’s one of my besetting sins, this passivity. It’s the Nuremburg Defense: “I was only obeying orders.” God expects more from us. We’re Christians, not Buddhists. Quietude is not an unalloyed virtue in our moral scheme. God expects us to make a fuss now and then.

Gotta work on that.

4 thoughts on “I’m doing fine”

  1. I’m a little baffled (well, a lot) by this story; this student accused you of not being ‘christ like’ but when didn’t christ pay his debts?

    – do you know any seminary professors who wouldn’t object if their salaries weren’t paid?

  2. There are times when we must forgive our debtors as we ask God to forgive our debts. In the Law of Moses, it was forbidden to take a poor man’s cloak in pledge overnight, because he needed it to wrap himself in. This was definitely a poor man’s cloak.

  3. Lars, your purpose with yourself in this is admirable. But debts incurred by tardiness rather than poverty don’t sit on your conscience, although it may be excellent to forgive them. And it is something less than Nazism and brutality to respect the wishes of an instructor (as you understood them) for his student. As for his friend, his distress may be understandable but unprovoked rudeness remains what it is however legitimate the sentiment that occasions it.

    You may be right about the student; he may be poor. And you might have questioned his instructor without impropriety. But I wouldn’t clip too close at your conscience about a thing like this. God’s own judgments are more liberal or he depopulates heaven.

  4. Sounds to me like the instructor has issues frankly. You did what you thought best, under the circumstances.

    It’s not a debt to *yourself* that you had to contemplate forgiving or negotiating, but to the institute that you were working for, and the other controlling authority had told you, as best you could tell, that the debt had to be paid in full.

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