Debt Forgiveness

Home Church Devotional 1/2/2021

These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”

                                                                 Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB)

There are many “kinds” of debt in our country. Some debt is essential to our everyday lives, such as utility bills for heating and electricity, rent or mortgage for our homes and insurance for our vehicles so we can work to pay off our debt…just to name a few. However, there are three kinds of debt, that seemingly, have our country in a death grip, and these debts are, for the most part, of our own making. Credit card debt, healthcare debt and student loan debt are running wild throughout our country and there seems to be no end in sight for any of them.

While there are provisions in place for some to have student loan debt forgiven, this only happens after a long period of time in which you are required to make greatly reduced payments. Nothing, after all is free! Our healthcare system is broken and badly in need of repair with skyrocketing costs for care and medication, and in some cases, has helped to feed our nations credit card debt. While the “keeping up with the Jones’ attitude” is very much alive in our country, many people are forced to choose between putting food on the table or paying for much needed medication. Many have turned to credit cards to make ends meet.

Our nation desperately needs DEBT FORGIVENESS but this would only serve to tank our economy, bankrupting, not only banks and credit card companies, but many large retailers as well. No, simply forgiving our debt in this manner would only harm some and allow many to escape the consequences of their actions. There is an answer to this ever-deepening problem, this answer, however, isn’t very popular with most people in our country today. If we truly want DEBT FORGIVENESS, we must first return to the principles on which this country was founded…biblical principles.

The DEBT FORGIVENESS found in biblical principles goes much deeper than simply relieving our financial debt. No, the principles found in the Bible would impact our entire lives from money to health to how we live our life from day-to-day. DEBT FORGIVENESS begins with each individual repenting of their sinful ways and turning to God for DEBT FORGIVENSS that leads to an eternity with God.

Why is DEBT FORGIVENESS important in the Christian life?

DEBT FORGIVENESS is important because we have been forgiven a debt we could not repay; thus, we forgive the minor debt of others.

1). The DEBT FORGIVENESS we seek is of our own making – it was not force upon us.

Debt is a failure to keep one’s responsibilities. In our everyday life this means if we use electricity, we pay an electric bill; if we use gas to heat our homes, heat our water and to cook our food, we pay a gas bill. Failure to do this results in punishment, a disconnect from services and an outstanding bill that must be paid before services can resume. The debt cannot be forgiven without the payment of the bill or some other course of action, usually in some legal fashion. Even then, we may have to provide a security deposit or pay fees that may be higher than the original bill. The end result is a stain that remains with us for some time to come.

Forgiveness is as essential to the life and health of our soul as bread or food is to our body! Our sin is as debt because it deserves punishment. When God forgives our sin, He removes the penalty and drops the charge of sin against us. In this life we will never get to the point of NOT needing forgiveness on an hourly basis! We will never be perfect this side of heaven, but we can become what God has created us for – to love God and to allow that love to flow to those around us.

All people have failed God in our given responsibilities. Because we have failed to pay the debt for our responsibilities, we are guilty. What are our responsibilities to God? Our duty to God is to ask for forgiveness when we fail His will. How have we failed God? We fail God when we break His commandments, specifically the Ten Commandments meant to shape our physical and spiritual lives. We fail God when we worship as the pagans do and mix pagan traditions or even trade them, for what God has set apart and made holy. We fail God when we do not pray, our basic means of communication with the One who created us. We fail God when we do not read, study and meditate on His word, the means by which He has revealed Himself. We fail God when we “limit” His work in our lives; putting God in a box and taking Him off the shelf for an hour each week simply isn’t good enough!

Sin creates a debt towards God that we cannot repay. Those who have responded to the call of Christ have had their sins forgiven but we cannot simply celebrate our state of forgiveness, in our gratitude of forgiveness we too must eagerly forgive those who owe us a debt. God forgives those who are truly repentant, and the main evidence of someone who is repentant is a forgiving spirit.

DEBT FORGIVENESS is important because we have been forgiven a debt we could not repay; thus, we forgive the minor debt of others.

2). Our DEBT FORGIVENESS must also include the forgiveness of those who have done us harm.

Like the stain of an unpaid utility bill, unforgiveness is a stain on our soul that must be removed. Removing the stain of an unpaid utility bill may take time and much more money than the original bill but the stain of unforgiveness is as simple as the act of opening one’s hands. We have all heard the saying, “Let go and let God,” which does hold some truth, but is much more difficult in practice. Letting go requires that we open or unclench our hands, which requires we relax, specifically relaxing the muscles in the hand and our heart.

The simple fact is we cannot receive forgiveness when the condition of forgiveness – repentance – has not been met towards others. In order to receive forgiveness from God our hands must be opened, we cannot stand with clenched fists in unforgiveness to others who have wronged us and expect to receive freely from God. Our forgiveness of others, however, does not EARN us forgiveness with God. Once we have our eyes open to the immenseness of our hurt against God, the hurt others have done to us becomes small in comparison. We forgive others that we might continue to experience joy in our salvation experience here and now.

Just as we have failed God in our responsibilities, so we have failed people in our responsibilities towards them. Our duty towards other people is to forgive their sins against us. There will be many in this world who will do evil against us – not just outside the church but inside the church as well. People can and will smite us, use us, hate us, persecute us and spread rumors about us. At some point we will likely face some sort of physical abuse in the world. It’s not a matter of is but when.

In our fallen humanity the temptation will be to strike back, take an eye for an eye! But if we are to take this model of prayer seriously and begin to put what we pray into action our response must be one of forgiveness. We fail in our responsibilities towards other people when we harbor unforgiveness; when we openly show anger and bitterness towards another – those who witness these reactions are impacted just as much as the one we are bitter or angry towards. We fail our responsibilities towards other people when we entertain feelings of jealousy and envy – here again the keeping up with the Jones’ attitude is very much alive in our country today!

Perhaps the most common way we fail our responsibilities towards other people is in our prayer life – or lack thereof. We fail our responsibilities towards others when we have no real intercessory prayer life. Intercessory prayer is the highest calling of the Christian prayer life. When we lift others before God, especially those who do not believe, we set into motion the power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and the life of those in which we are praying for. Intercessory prayer is a powerful tool, a tool that is not being used enough or properly, for every Christian individually and church body corporately. But we also fail others when we tell them we will be praying for them and then don’t; the only bad prayer is the unspoken prayer left unattended in the recesses of our minds.

We also fail others when we have the means to provide for the basic needs of others and do nothing to help them. James reminds us that faith without deeds is a dead faith. Helping others with basic needs does not always mean giving them money. Help comes in many forms; a bag of groceries to help carry them through a rough spot; pulling out some old clothes you no longer wear; a pair of shoes hidden in the back of your closet; a ride to or from an appointment; information on where to find help for utility bills, groceries or medications are all helpful in meeting basic needs.

DEBT FORGIVENESS is important because we have been forgiven a debt we could not repay; thus, we forgive the minor debt of others.

Our nation desperately needs DEBT FORGIVENESS but this would only serve to tank our economy, bankrupting, not only banks and credit card companies, but many large retailers as well. No, simply forgiving our debt in this manner would only harm some and allow many to escape the consequences of their actions. There is an answer to this ever-deepening problem, this answer, however, isn’t very popular with most people in our country today. If we truly want DEBT FORGIVENESS, we must first return to the principles on which this country was founded…biblical principles.

The DEBT FORGIVENESS found in biblical principles goes much deeper than simply relieving our financial debt. No, the principles found in the Bible would impact our entire lives from money to health to how we live our life from day-to-day. DEBT FORGIVENESS begins with each individual repenting of their sinful ways and turning to God for DEBT FORGIVENSS that leads to an eternity with God.

What is the church’s responsibility in all of this? The church, of course, cannot forgive sin, only God truly forgives our sin. However, the church should be a place of forgiveness, modeling the practice of forgiveness and praying with and for others. The church should teach intercessory prayer as it models praying for others. It is also the place where helping to meet the basic needs of people is to be modeled through its actions in the church body and the community in general. Food pantry’s supported by churches are a major contributor to help feed the hungry; clothing drives help clothe those who may have a need following a fire or natural disaster; partnering through giving to agencies that provide help with utility bills and emergency needs and he ever popular tradition of adopting families during the holiday season are just a few ways the church can model of forgiveness and an active faith.

Individually we must try to understand there is very likely a deeper reason someone has sinned against us – we are not fighting against flesh and blood, though the fight is carried out in the flesh, we are fighting a spiritual battle! Being tried, aggravated, being mistreated by another, and low self-esteem are just a few of the thing’s others may be dealing with. Though they are not an excuse we must try to remember others face difficulties we know nothing about. We must practice forbearance, that is, being patient and self-controlled; we forgive or stop feeling angry or resentful towards others. Finally, we can forget but in the sense that we are not harboring or holding wrong against another waiting for the day to “get even.”

None of this is easy, no one ever said it would be, in fact, Jesus told is disciples that would indeed find trouble in this world. But the good news is Jesus has overcome the world and by remaining in His love through obedience to His commandments, we too can overcome the world and the trouble we find while here.  As you work to put into practice this model of prayer may God bless your effort with His strength, may Christ grant you perseverance and may the Holy Spirit empower you each step of the way.

Amen and Amen.

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