Day Five – Living debt-free

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4; 1 Peter 4:8

In the gospels, Jesus instructed seventeen different times about forgiving others. He even included it in His model prayer. Notice in Matthew’s account of the Lord’s prayer, he states, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” However, Luke says, “Forgive us our sins (trespasses). . . “Why two different interpretations?

Jesus used an Aramaic word that means both debts and sins. In Greek and English two different words are used to differentiate between sin and debt. However, in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), one word was used that meant both. Matthew interpreted Jesus’ instructions one way; Luke interpreted another way. Since this is what Jesus intended, we need to understand both.

Sin is a wrongful action that is out of alignment with God’s will. A debt, however, is an unfulfilled obligation toward God and man. It entails those things we have left undone. Could it be that our debt is the expectation of what we want others to give us, but we’re not willing to give ourselves? Isn’t that how the servant in the parable erred? He gladly accepted forgiveness from one person, but he would not offer it to someone else.

Ironically, while we struggle over the wrong-doing someone else has committed against us, our failure to cancel their debt makes us guilty of sin. We who were blameless are now culpable.

One young lady who was robbed of her innocence at an early age insisted she had forgiven her victimizer. “But,” she lamented, “I’ll never forget what he took from me. He stole my childhood.”. Another person carried a grudge toward someone who had wronged him. “He owes me an apology,” the man said defensively. “I am under no obligation to forgive until he pays up.” Going through the motions of forgiveness is meaningless if we carry an emotional debt against our offender.

The most effective way to cancel debts we think others owe us is to “love deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Let love just smother the life out of those outstanding emotional debts.

  • What unfulfilled obligations toward God or man remain outstanding in your life? What will it take for you to satisfy those obligations?
  • What debts do you think others owe you? How can you begin to “love deeply” so those debts are canceled?

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