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Teaching Our Kids Not to Owe Anyone Anything

Teaching Our Kids Not to Owe Anyone Anything

What do your children owe to others? While we might be aware that the Bible teaches us to give others what they are due financially, do you know it also says there are other things we must give? Dive deep with us today and learn how to develop a legacy of character in your kids.

As parents, we have many opportunities to influence our children and lead them toward biblical living through our example. We have all heard the common life truth that more is caught than taught.

Recently, I have been digging deep into a passage of Scripture that has been challenging me to be reflective on what kind of legacy I am leaving regarding modeling and teaching my children the biblical principle of owing no one anything. The first thing that may come to your mind regarding “owing” something to someone might be financial, but I want to encourage you that God’s word actually speaks to multiple things that we might owe someone that are not financial.

We know that biblically God advises us and warns us against having financial debt. This verse in Romans has often been used as one of the foundational verses regarding this concept. But I want to exhort you that there are many other potential debts that we can owe someone.

“Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:7-8

To render means to provide or give. We are being instructed by God to give people what they are due, whether that be tribute, which could be a gift of admiration and thanksgiving or a payment for services rendered, custom, which is a way of behaving that is culturally expected, fear, or honor. The point is that we, as Christians, are called to owe no one anything.

And as parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children how to do this by both helping them to practice these virtues of thanksgiving and gratitude as well as by modeling for them an example worthy of following.

Here are three ways we might owe others and an exhortation to evaluate what legacy we are leaving in relation to each of these debts:

1. Debt and Finances.

What legacy are you leaving regarding financial health?

Is there a recurring flawed example of debt and borrowing, or do your children see you striving to owe no one anything?

This is a very crucial principle for us parents to consider because of the potential influence it could have on the future financial health and spiritual health of our children. For example, if we are “owned” by our debt and pursued by our debtors, then we live as slaves to them. This type of bondage can become generational if we do not purpose to break the bondage by being honest and transparent with our older children, and make a conscience choice to turn from the sinfulness of overspending and model new choices and freedom in Christ regarding this aspect of life. Do not let debt or money to have control over your life. There should be only one master of our lives-- God.

2. Fear.

Biblically, we are taught that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 9:10). And told NOT to fear circumstances and people (Joshua 1:9; John 14:27; Isa. 43:1; Ps. 23:4). Many in our culture do NOT have a healthy biblical fear of God. And ironically, those who do not have the fear of the Lord also struggle with fear of circumstances, people, and the unknown.

How does this truth relate to our parenting?

If we are rendering fear to people and letting it prevent us from obeying God in relationships, or if we are allowing fear of failure or circumstances to dictate our obedience to God’s calling on our lives, we are NOT modeling a proper example of rendering fear to whom it is due and we are leaving a legacy that will cripple and disable our children. Render fear to whom it is due and you will no longer fear for tomorrow, what you will eat, or where you will go.

3. Honor.

Do you want your children to be respectful and be honoring to you in how they speak about you to their children, your grandchildren?

I know this is a tough one. I have been convicted of this over the years at times myself because I don’t always agree with those God has placed in my life. And though I do not have to agree with them or allow them to influence in my life, I do need to be purposeful in giving them honor. I began thinking specifically about this about 12 years ago when my father went through serious head injury and realizing part of my duty to bring honor to my dad is to protect his image with my children as best as possible.

So, I have been purposeful to protect my children’s image and view of their grandparents.
God doesn’t say to give honor to those who deserve it, His word teaches us to give honor to whom it is due. The Bible also teaches us all to honor thy father and mother, not just children. In fact, it is considered “custom” in all cultures to give honor to one’s mother and father. This passage of Scripture is telling us to not only give honor to whom it is due but also custom to whom custom is due! This very topic of giving due custom to those whom it is due in regards to honoring thy mother and father is covered in depth by Jesus in Matthew 15.

Father, We desire, more than anything to bring You glory and be obedient to Your will and word. Would you reveal to us what needs to be changed? Reveal to us opportunities to give honor to those whom it is due, tribute and custom to those whom it is due. Might we do this in a way that does bring You glory. And might our children be impacted to live more righteously by their witness of how we live. Might we be a light to the culture by giving custom to those whom it is due. In Jesus Name, Amen.

If this study of Scripture in light of legacy and living resonates and encourages you, I hope you will join me over at

Be Courageous, 

Angie Tolpin, The Courageous Mom

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