Forgive us our debts

Debt is in the news. Some of the richest nations in the world are facing massive debts. Personal debt in Britain is also very high. The average household debt, excluding mortgages, is £8,064. The personal consequences for many are devastating. They have no hope of repaying their debts and live in fear of the post, the telephone and the door bell. The unemployed, the elderly and single parents are especially vulnerable. When we are in debt there may be few people who are willing to help us.

We all also have another debt; one to which we may give little thought. Every day we sin against God and break his commands. Throughout our lives this debt accumulates and becomes impossible to repay. The moral fabric of our nation is deteriorating. There are few people who truly fear God. Some sin arrogantly and flout God’s moral standards. Yet he holds every one of us accountable for what we do. We need to face up to the debt we owe to God and seek to make peace with him.

Against this dark background the message of the New Testament is wonderful and a source of great comfort to all who realise their need to find peace with God. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, came into the world to deal with human sin and the moral debt we owe to God. Jesus paid the debt of sin by his death on the Cross, as he endured the penalty that our sins deserve. The Cross was an act of reconciliation as, through Jesus, God reconciled the world to himself, and did not count our sins against us.

There comes a time when everyone who is in debt must face up to the consequences. So, too, we need to put things right with God. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are indebted to us.” Such a prayer is not simply words, but must come from our heart as we express our deep sorrow that we have rejected God and his kindness to us. It is also accompanied by a full resolve that, with his help, we will change and deal graciously with others who sin against us. God always answer such prayers. You may have prayed those words many times, but have you ever prayed them with full understanding and experienced the joy of complete forgiveness in Jesus Christ?