The debt crisis in Greece reminds us that the whole world is in debt — and not just financial debt. We’re also drowning in spiritual debt — the debt of sin. How is “sin” like “debt”? In my recent Sunday morning sermons at The Donelson Fellowship on the subject of the Lord’s Prayer, I devoted a message to the phrase: And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:13.
The Nature of Debt
The first thing to consider is the nature of debt. God has blessed us with a billion blessings. But we have not given what we owe Him, so we are in debt. We have failed to give God the obedience and honor that is due Him. We owe God a perfect life because of all He has done for us, but we can’t give Him His due. That’s the nature of debt.
The Nature of Forgiveness
That leads us to the nature of forgiveness. We instinctively feel we need to be forgiven. Here’s an example: Even if they weren’t baseball fans, everyone growing up in the 1960s knew about Mickey Mantle. His all-American smile appeared regularly on popular magazines, and everyone talked of his eye-popping homeruns, his team spirit, his World Series victories, and the wholesome image he presented to the world. Behind the smile, of course, the truth was different. Mantle was a troubled man, severely addicted to alcohol. He was often drunk when he played for the Yankees, and his teammates were amazed he could hit the ball and run around the bases while inebriated. His family life was a sham, his language was crude and filthy, and he was a serial womanizer who neglected his wife and sons.
In the end, it all caught up to him; and in his final months, Mickey Mantle began looking for forgiveness. He asked forgiveness from his family and apologized to his fans in television interview. To everyone’s surprise, Mantle began going to church and reaching out to the Lord. Friends like baseball legend Bobby Richardson witnessed to him, and Mickey Mantle reportedly invited Jesus Christ to become His Savior and Lord. His heart became tender and responsive to spiritual things. His friend, Roy True, later said, “When Bobby Richardson came to Mickey and said, ‘You’re dying, here is a way to make peace,” he embraced it. He wanted to be forgiven.”
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us there is one simple way of being released from our debt. We simply need to ask for forgiveness. We need to pray, “Forgive us our debts.” Four words—and our debts are all gone. That’s the nature of being forgiven. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. Somebody had to pay our debt on our behalf, and the one who taught us to pray is the one who made the prayer possible. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
The Nature of Being Forgiven
That’s the nature of forgiveness, but let’s also talk about the nature of being forgiven. It dishonors God when we continue to wallow in the gutter of sin and shame when He has gone to such lengths to forgive our sins. Here’s a way to leave your shame and guilt behind you. Let me give you a simple sentence for times like that: When you feel plagued by things you’ve confessed to God and placed under the blood of Christ, but they come to mind again, just tell yourself one thing: “I’ve put that behind me.” That’s all there is to it. “I’ve put that behind me, and I’m not turning around to look at it again. Furthermore, God has put that behind Him and He has put it behind us. That’s behind me and I’m facing forward.” See Isaiah 38:17.
The Nature of Being Forgiving
That leads to the nature of being forgiving. It’s impossible to miss how Jesus told us to pray for forgiveness. We’re to say, “Forgive us our debts as we also forgive those indebted to us.” In other words, God’s forgiveness doesn’t end with us. It’s passed on through us to those who have hurt us.
The Lord wants to heal the brokenness between you and that person with whom you are so angry. He can enable us to forgive as He forgives us. Don’t keep holding that grunge or clinging to that bitterness. Release it to the Lord. He died for you and forgave all your sin; He put it behind His back. He can help you to do the same with the offences of others.
This simple petition in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” is a very simple sentence, but it took the very death of the One who spoke it to implement it to reality. It’s the crimson blood of the Savior who validates the nature of debt, of forgiveness, of being forgiven, and of being forgiving.