Matthew 6:12, Forgiving Our Debtors

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

//This verse is part of the Lord’s Prayer (the “Our Father”), and it reads straightforwardly. But what does it mean? How can God forgive our debts?

It’s possible to read too straightforwardly, but it’s equally possible to not read straightforwardly enough. We must remember the climate of first-century peasantry, where debt was a serious foe, ranking up there with food and shelter. If a person fell into debt, he would most likely lose his land or wind up in indentured servitude (temporary slavery).

Thus when Jesus came proclaiming the year of the Jubilee (see Luke 4:19), the year when all debts are forgiven, he was referring directly to releasing the burden of debt.

It’s common to read the Lord’s Prayer like this: Forgive us our sins, as we forgive the sins of others. But those who had fallen into debt aren’t sinners, they are merely unfortunates. It is not by forgiving the sins of others that we appeal to God, but by lifting up those who have fallen on hard times…especially if they owe a debt to us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>