The Word on the Week

Social Harm.

So now we have a word for it – two words in fact, “Social Harm”. That’s what the Golden Circle of Bankers, “Light touch” Regulators and self seeking Politicians were doing to us. We would not have known if it were not for the report of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

It said it was “fundamentally incorrect” to perceive white collar crime as victimless. Now that is hardly groundbreaking news!

It further said that the criminal justice system was focused on less serious crime and failed to address larger scale, so-called ”victimless” social harm that may arise through white collar, regulatory and other crimes of the wealthy.

So now we know. How do we correct it? How do those in authority pass legislation to bring in boundaries to their authority and include sanctions against those who break them? Sounds like turkeys being asked to vote for Christmas!

So in the meantime we have an adult version of cops and robbers with the cops working in a land where the powers that be conspire against a successful prosecution ever being made.

Even the Bankers have joined in the game to round up the assets of their former clients only to find that the assets are now registered anonymously in the Virgin Islands!

It’s not an easy thing to bring the big boys to justice!

What has the Bible to say to all this?

Scripture is in the business of forgiving debt! If it was not so we would have no chance of ever getting to heaven. The formula is simple – if you have racked up a debt that you could not pay debt forgiveness or cancellation is the only remedy.

Jesus outlined it in the parable of the “Unforgiving Servant”. In this case the servant begged for mercy. His debt was so large that working for 10 lifetimes could not repay it and, “out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” (St Matthew Chapter 18 verse 27)

This makes no sense unless you realise the accumulation of debt each one of us has in our account with God. Starting with our determination not to believe; to have nothing to do with him ruling over our lives and outworking in 100 and 1 ways in which we maintain our self centered existence out of relationship with him.

When the Lord converts a person they see with 20/20 vision their state before him and, like the servant in the parable, look for mercy (not justice!) their debt is cancelled. They are completely forgiven. Jesus has paid the ultimate price for it on the cross. The reality if it all strikes home. The believer is set free! This freedom is to be used to emulate our Saviour, as St Paul puts it; “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”. (Ephesians Chapter 4 verse 32)

Releasing someone from a debt is not condoning their action. It’s recognising that the person cannot pay. If they repent, that is show godly sorrow for the social harm their actions have caused, it will be the means of their salvation. St Paul puts it clearly in 2 Corinthians Chapter 7 verse 10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”