Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Forgive Us Our Debts

            Debt is a huge human problem, it always has been! But things could be very different than they are and lives could be free from the many problems that swirl around debt like devastating tornadoes.

            When Jesus taught us to pray – “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” – what exactly was he talking about? There is an interesting progression in thought and words in the gospels recording this prayer: literal debt – metaphorical debt – sin debt. But when Jesus taught his disciples this prayer he was leading them “back to the future” – mining the book of Deuteronomy for its treasure about how to treat one another in the kingdom of God. Here are some amazing statements about how life could be lived if we would simply pay attention to God.

·         At the end of seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother because the Lord’s time of canceling debts has been proclaimed. (Deuteronomy 15:1-2 NIV)

·         However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord you God and are careful to follow all the commands I am giving you today. (Deuteronomy 15:4-5 NIV)

·         If there is a poor man among you in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. (Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NIV)

·         There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded towards your brothers and towards the poor and needy in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:11 NIV)

Forgiven debts, generosity towards the poor, openhanded rather than hardhearted people – sounds like a good community in which to live. Of course, a new kind of world will only arrive when we learn to become a new kind of people! When we learn to trust God and love people – then we will see the dawning of a new world.

When Jesus taught us to pray this prayer - “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors” – he was placing us on the threshold of the kingdom of God. If we can manage the faith to both pray it and live it we will become a new people, the family of God! 

- Kenny Payne

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