As the door creaks open, we see Mr. B. seated behind a huge, highly polished wooden desk. He sits in his black leather chair, leaning toward Mr. E., who fidgets in his chair. Wide open on the desk lies a gigantic ledger, its pages opened to the E’s.
“Ah, friend,” Mr. B. exclaims, “I see you shoveled snow for the elderly widow next door. That earns a plus sign on your soul’s ledger.”
Mr. E. shifts and smiles tentatively, his chest rising slightly with pride in his good deed. A sly smile creeps over Mr. B’s face and his eyes glitter. “But,” he exclaims triumphantly, “You failed to shovel last month, you only mowed her yard three times last summer, and you rarely visit her. That comes to four positive marks, and…let me see…20 negative marks. That makes your overall score negative 16.”
Mr. E’s shoulders visibly slump, and his eyes drop to the tops of his shoes. “But I thought….”
“You thought!” interrupted Mr. B. “Let me remind you that I am the bookkeeper. You are definitely in the red. You must try harder!”
“Yes, sir,” Mr. E. mumbles, “I will try harder.” He stands, turns, and shuffles out the door.
As it closes, Mr. B. chuckles. “What a loser! He’ll be mine soon. He’ll pay for what he owes!”
Many years later, Mr. E. once again enters Mr. B’s office. He is now elderly, yet he walks with a straight back and holds his chin high. Mr. E. sits in the guest chair and looks at Mr. B. Once again, the huge ledger lies open. “Well, well, well,” Mr. B. says, examining the ledger. “You have done many good deeds since we last met. Feeding the hungry…giving to the poor…volunteering at your local school…. Well, you’ve earned several hundred positive points. “Now for the negative…you lost your temper…said a few bad words…harbored a grudge…didn’t forgive your neighbor…Hmm, it seems you have far more than one hundred negative points. You have a negative three hundred and sixty-three. Since your time on earth is nearing its completion, it appears you owe me. But don’t worry, you have all eternity to pay off this debt.” As Mr. B. looks up from his ledger, a broad smile covers his face, but doesn’t reach his eyes.
Mr. E. sits straight in his chair, a slight smile playing about his lips. He shifts his weight and reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small piece of paper. “I believe you have made a mistake,” he says.
“What! How dare you question my bookkeeping!” shouts Mr. B. He jumps up and lunges over the desk toward Mr. E., glaring at him. “You are mine; there is no mistake!”
“Oh, but there is a mistake. You see, I have a receipt. Here is a copy of it.” He hands the small slip of paper to Mr. B.
“Impossible!” sputters Mr. B. “You owe me!”
“You are mistaken.” Mr. E. speaks quietly and calmly. “My debt was paid by one who left a heavenly home to live on earth. He willingly died a painful death to erase my debt. If you don’t believe me, look at your book.”
Mr. B. glances at his carefully written ledger. His face turns red as he stares at the “E” page. Right before his eyes, every mark against Mr. E. slowly disappears.
“See,” said Mr. E., “My ledger is clean. I owe you nothing. My soul is free of debt.”
Mr. B looks at the little piece of paper in his hand and reads: “Mr. E.’s debt—PAID IN FULL. Signed, Jesus Christ."