PFOA: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

We have been meditating on the "Family Prayer" these last few weeks. As disciples and followers of Jesus we call God our Heavenly Father. We prayed that His name be hallowed; His Kingdom be established; and His Will be accomplished. As His children we ask for our daily needs be supplied. And we are all very happy to do this. The prayers we usually pray most likely include these requests. Certainly these are the subjects of many of our contemporary worship songs. But this is not the whole. Jesus' model prayer changes in tone at this point.

Forgive us our debts. It was "Forgive us our trespasses" when I first learnt this prayer. Luke in 11:4 used "our sins". To trespass is to cross the line, to enter into a forbidden area. To sin is to transgress, break the law. As believers we know our sins are forgiven because of Christ's work on the cross. Yet we also know in our experience that we continue to sin daily. You are just deceiving yourself if you think otherwise (1 John 1:8). Verse 12 begins with the conjunction "and" linking it to the previous verse. So as we daily ask for our daily bread, we also ask for forgiveness for our sins and trespasses daily.

The use of "debts" in most recent translations adds a dimension to the meaning. Our daily sins and trespasses are accumulating a mountain of debt. Because Jesus Christ is infinite, the price He paid on Calvary is infinite and is sufficient for all our sins, past, present and future. There is no doubt about that. This is not talking about our salvation, our standing before God. This is about the debt of the believer.

What is this debt that we owe to God? 1 Cor 6:19-20 reminds us "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body" (NIV). Since we belong to God, anything we hold back from Him becomes a debt, including our will, our ambitions, our time, our careers, our habits, our desires and our love. And what about our lack of self control of our speech and appetites?

In addition, we read in Romans 1:14-15, "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also" (KJV). So we are indebted not only to God, but to others as well. We, who have received the gospel are obligated to be witnesses, to share it with others. We owe it to them.

How are you managing your debt?

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