I Owe You!

I received this article in Coffee Break with Holiness Today. I want to share the article for two personal reasons:

First, the original author, Bertha Munro, was my friend when I was a student at Eastern Nazarene University in the early 70s.  She was long retired, but I visited her weekly at her little cottage at the edge of the campus.  She looked over my English papers until she found something important to discuss with me.

Second, Merritt Neilson, the author who found and posted this article, was my youth pastor when I was a senior in High School in Quincy, MA at the Wollaston Church of the Nazarene.  He continued to mentor me through my college years and, he was there when the Lord sanctified me.

I also share the article because it addresses a deep concern: treating one another with respect.  We, especially as Christians, are the vanguard of healthy relationships. 

Here is a Bertha Munro classic that first appeared in the Herald of Holiness, now Holiness Today. She wrote in her autobiography that it summarized her philosophy of personal relations (Bertha Munro, The Years Teach, p. 266):

Dean Bertha Munroe, Eastern Nazarene College, circa, 1940s


I owe you respect for your personality. You too are that climax of God’s creation, made in His likeness.

I owe you a right to your own opinion. You may differ with me without fear that I shall raise a barrier between us if we do not see eye to eye. We can disagree and still be friends.

I owe you belief in your integrity. Since I do, I shall put the best possible construction on your actions. I shall trust your words and deeds, even those I am unable to understand.

I owe you honest treatment; I shall not steal people’s good opinion of you. I shall voice the sort of comment on you and your actions that I should wish made on me.

I owe you a “taking-off place.” Though I value your friendship, I shall not enslave your spirit nor bind you so closely to me that you will lose the wealth of other friendships, or even fail to develop your own best potentialities.

I owe you thoughtful consideration. I will not steal your time when you are evidently busy, just because I happen to have some free time to “kill.”

I owe you honest wages if I chance to be employer, honest work if I chance to be employed, honest measure and just weight in any case.

I owe you special help in time of special need: my hand, my ear, my voice.

I owe you patience with what seems to me your senselessness or slowness.

I owe you the identification of Golden-Rule imagination. I owe you “love unfeigned.”

I owe it to you not to push you down in order to lift myself. Rather, I owe you advancement to the limit of my ability. I owe it to you to see you forge ahead of me without any reaction of envy or jealousy—even to give you a push.

I owe you a good example, a Christian testimony.

I owe you the gospel of Christ to the limit that I possess it.

I owe it to you to prove its power to the full that God may challenge and encourage you by the example of what He has done for someone else.

All this I owe you, and much more.

I owe it to you not to fall behind with my “payments.”

I shall always owe the abounding love which will meet those unforeseen and unexpected demands of an emergency and will save me from a “You must” and the “I have to.”


Merritt Nielson* has a ministry career spanning 50 years including being former director of curriculum for Sunday School Discipleship Ministries. He currently serves as constituent engagement manager for Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.

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