Forgive Us Our Debts
There are lots of pretty unwholesome, four letter words that we generally try to steer clear of in life, but there is one four letter word that is usually not on that “bad word” list, but is really far more menacing… “debt.” Debt has really become a crisis in our country; we are a nation of debtors. With interest rates on the rise, and people’s insatiable appetite for more and more stuff, and so much of it purchased on credit, debt is really becoming more of a crisis every day! In His model prayer, Jesus teaches us some critical truths about debt when He tells us to pray:
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12
In our time, we may view debt as an annoyance, a bother, a means to an end; but in Jesus’ time, debt was far more than that. Debt was punishable by imprisonment. In fact, Roman prisons weren’t filled with criminals, they were filled with debtors. So in ancient times, “debt” was a really bad word!
In fact, in Jesus’ time, to be forgiven a debt was an act of extravagant mercy. This vital line in Jesus’ model prayer is an acknowledgement that we owe a debt to God. We have failed to pay Him the obedience that He is rightly due. It reveals that we are sinners who stand before God, deserving of His just punishment. There is only one thing that could pardon us from sin’s penalty of death. That thing we desperately need from God is forgiveness. This important phrase in The Lord’s Prayer points directly to the gospel.
So what does it mean to pray, forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors? From this simple line we see four distinct truths…
1. This prayer makes clear that we are sinners in need of forgiveness.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
This is a bad news, good news passage for us. We are sinners, but in Christ, we are redeemed; that means our sin debt is paid in full. What an amazing gift from God! Once we have been saved, received God’s gift of salvation, then we begin a new life of holiness in Christ that will be filled with good work or fruit, which will include forgiving our debtors. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
2. Even though we are sinners, we can approach our Father to seek His forgiveness.
It is pretty audacious of us to approach the throne of God asking for His forgiveness. To do that requires a few things on our part, doesn’t it?… Humility, honesty and sincerity. If you struggle with the need to seek forgiveness from God then you are lacking in these three areas. (Proverbs 16:18). Thankfully, because of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, with our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, we can freely and audaciously approach the throne of God to seek His grace and mercy.
3. God is willing, and wanting, to forgive our sin!
4 [God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:4. Some people wrongly think that God is sitting on high waiting to condemn them; but that is not His heart. He wants all people to be saved. God is willing, wanting and waiting for us to ask for His forgiveness, no matter what we have done. (2 Peter 3:9).
4. This petition demonstrates the character of Christ-followers.
The kingdom of God is far different from the kingdoms of this world. Those who are citizens of His kingdom are characterized by mercy, kindness, goodness and forgiveness. Those who are part of the kingdom of God are in that kingdom for one reason; because we have experienced God’s forgiveness. That forgiveness causes us to be radically different from what we see and experience in this world. We are characterized by a willingness to forgive, in the same way we have been forgiven; even when we may not want to forgive. Forgiven people are forgiving people. (Matthew 18:21-22; Matthew 18:23-35)
Is there someone you need to forgive? To be clear, forgiveness may not mean resuming the relationship, or putting someone in a position to continue to hurt you, or even telling the other person, “I forgive you.” Those things may happen when you forgive another; but forgiveness is not about another, it’s about you. It is about your willingness to let go of the anger and bitterness you may feel toward that person, and forgive their debts, just as God has forgiven yours.
For much more, click here to watch or share this worship service… Prayer Matters - Part 7 - Forgive Us Our Debts.