SOURCE: Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 207
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matt. 6:12
Forgiveness can be a costly activity. When someone sins, they create a debt, and someone must pay it. Most of this debt is owed to God. In his great mercy, he sent his Son to pay the debt on the cross for all who would trust in him (Isa. 53:4-6; I Peter 2:24-25, Col. 1:19-20).
But if someone sinned against you, part of their debt is also owed to you. This means you have a choice to make. You can either take payments on the debt or make payments.
Food for Thought
What thoughts or feelings does the word debt stir in you?
There’s a phrase of the Lord’s Prayer that you may not hear much anymore: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” You usually hear “forgive us our sins” or “forgive us our trespasses“; both are correct in translation and meaning. But many have gotten away from this word debt. Ever wonder why?
The words we choose to use say much about us. Words are vehicles for meaning. Ponder this for a moment. Maybe, just maybe, using the word sin or trespass helps up to keep this phrase at arm’s length. Trespass is so old fashioned, we can say it and just keep on moving. It’s not a word we use everyday, so we just recite it, robot-like, and go to the next phrase. Sin is this big category that contains so many thoughts and feelings that it’s almost overwhelming, so much so that we say it and then stick our heads in the ground, hoping it will go away. And keeping this phrase at arm’s length unfortunately keeps our hearts at arm’s length from God and others.
But debt — now that means something. We’re free of debt, we’re trying to get out ofdebt, or maybe we’re deep in debt. Using that word forces us to remember that forgiveness is a costly activity. Now that has specificity to it — someone or something has to pay. As a human being, you and I can decide to either take payments or make payments on the debt that comes from someone sinning against us. If we’re interested in being a peacemaker, well, then the choice is made — make the payment in light of the payment He made for your debt, pray the prayer, and live the life as He taught us — as we forgive our debtors.