Lenten Devotional: February 25th
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
There are different versions of the Lord's Prayer and this line contains the major variation in each version.
"and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,"
"Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us."
Yet, we say "Forgive us our debts."
Now, if you're really, really interested, you can read all about the nuances of the Greek language and why different denominations of Christianity use different translations. I care very little about this issue. All three prayers ask God to forgive us, and all three prayers remind us to offer that same forgiveness to others. I feel comfortable praying any version of this prayer and will switch based on my context without the blink of an eye.
But my PREFERENCE is to say "debts." While the word we translate to "debts" in the Matthew passage doesn't necessarily mean monetary ones, these are the ones I'm always thinking of when I pray. Because I love money.
Seriously, I love money. I love money in the way Jesus warned us about. Money brings me way more joy than it should, so my spiritual discipline is extravagant generosity in the hopes that I will love Christ more, and money less. It's an ongoing project.
I also take debts very seriously. It would be easier for me to forgive a very long list of offenses against my reputation and well-being than it would be to forgive a large debt owed to me. I always want what's "mine" returned (even when they don't have it).
A lot of folks in our country love money a little too much, and I think it stems from having more than others. Instead of gratitude, sometimes we respond with greed. I'm always in awe of those who have so much and share it freely because I don't know if I could donate millions at a time.
So it's a powerful reminder for me, each Sunday and every night when I pray the Lord's Prayer that God has forgiven me a debt with a greater monetary value than any amount of money I will ever have. I mean, maybe I think pretty highly of myself, but I think my salvation and the promise of eternal life is worth more money than the whole world has. Yours is too.
So I pray, "forgive us (me particularly, Lord) our debts (what I have done and fail to do) as we (and me, the overly-greedy one) forgive our debtors."
And lucky for me, God is way more forgiving than I'll ever be. But I've promised to not stop trying, and I think that's a pretty big step.
Christ Jesus, everything we have comes from you. Forgive us when we ignore the source of our blessings. Forgive us when we treat our treasures as things to be horded rather than beautiful things to be shared. Help us to forgive each other's debts, as you have so graciously done to ours. Amen.
Rev. Kelly Staples, Associate Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church