Do you have a credit card? Do you use a credit card? There are differing opinions here. Depending on your acceptance of the principles taught in “Financial Peace University”, you may put them in a freezer, have cut them up, or may pay them off every month. You may be like many Americans who carry on average $5,700 in credit card debt, according to the survey of consumer finances by the Federal Reserve. Having once carried enormous debt, I can testify that it is painful, restrictive, and costly. But what does this have to do with the Lord’s Prayer?
I simply want to build off of a concept that most of us can relate too. Debt! Jesus in fact uses this analogy when He prays in Matthew 6:12. The plea to the Father is that our debt is forgiven, and we are furthermore challenged to extend forgiveness to others.
Debt is a weight and can destroy a person. Sin is the same way. Our sin is a debt to God that cannot be transferred at little to no interest. It cannot be escaped by filing bankruptcy. It compounds with interest and must be paid! There are no exceptions.
The consequences of our sin debt is separation from God, death, and the wrath of God. Let that sink in for a moment. It is the full weight and understanding of the magnitude of our sin that will allow us to better value our forgiveness. I deserve to die. I deserve Hell. I deserve the wrath of God.
But God, who is rich in mercy, sent His Son on a rescue mission. For my sin debt to be paid, it would require a blood sacrifice, and only Jesus, in His perfection, was worthy to be such a sacrifice. It was this ransom that He willingly paid on the cross that allowed for my debt to be forgiven.
You see my debt was not canceled. This is not loan forgiveness in that I worked hard enough for long enough that it was written off as bad debt. My debt has been paid in full by the atoning blood of Jesus! He paid it for me. Wow! Let that sink in for a moment!
The depth of His love motivated Him to do what only He could do. So what now? I can now walk in thanksgiving for what He did. I can walk in confidence and not live in guilt. I should walk as a forgiven man with a willing heart to forgive others.
The second half of Matthew 6:12 connects my forgiven state with a willingness to extend the same measure of forgiveness to others. The bottom line is that forgiven people should forgive people. The unwillingness to forgive leads to a cesspool of waste.
It causes a marriage relationship to continually repeat the same argument over a past offense. It causes a child to resist trusting their parents once that trust has been broken. It recycles pain. An unwillingness to forgive creates a whirlpool of hurt rather than a spring of hope.
In one of his most famous sermons, Loving Your Enemies, Dr. Martin Luther King preached, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
We must stand with confidence before the Creator of the world as forgiven people whose debt has been paid in full. We must love others and view them as God does. We must extend forgiveness as we have been forgiven. When we do, we can begin to see hope extended and love expressed.
Gupta, N. K. (2017). The Lord’s Prayer. (L. Andres, Ed.) (p. 113). Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Incorporated.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love (New York: Harper & Row, 1963) 37
C. S. Lewis, Fern-Seed and Elephants, and Other Essays on Christianity (London: Fount, 1978) 43.
Exell, J. S. (1952). The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew (p. 97). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 243). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 120). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
avies, W. D., & Allison, D. C., Jr. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 611). London; New York: T&T Clark International.