Dr. J. Vernon McGee
The credit card has become the symbol of American business. It is the fraternity pin of the average American. It is the passport to plenty for a great many today. Anything can be bought with a credit card, from a gallon of gas to a ten gallon hat, from a sandwich to a chain of motels, from a night's lodging to a subdivision in Southern California.
There is a restaurant in Texas that displays insignias of all the different credit card organizations with the caption: We Accept All These and down underneath they add We Take Cash Also. When a purchase is made in any department store in the United States today, the classic cliché of the salesperson is ''charge or cash?'' and there's a slight look of disappointment if it's cash. You're immediately under suspicion when you're carrying that stuff around.
It may come to you as a bit of a shock to learn that Paul the apostle had a credit card even in his day - so they're not so new after all. In his letter to Philemon, we read:
If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee anything, put that on mine account [just use my credit card, if you don't mind]. I, Paul, have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it; albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. (Philemon 18, 19)
So Paul the apostle could write to Philemon and say in effect, ''Put it on my account, I'm signing now to put it on my credit card so you will know that I intend to pay this.''
Behind that statement, of course, is a story. Back of the little missal of Philemon is a missionary. Back of this epistle is the apostle. Back of his promise is a person who will pay. Back of the charge is collateral, and back of the communication is a confidence that brings comfort to the heart.
I want us to see the background of this little epistle, for it tells its own story. Paul went to Ephesus on his third missionary journey. He spent two whole years there, and we are told in Acts 19 ...
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