Home
Loading
  Contact Us    
Debts and Trespasses

Know What You're Asking

by Everett Wilson
July 3, 2010

Bookmark and Share
Debts and Trespasses

           The churches in our denomination never agreed on whether to say "debts" or "trespasses," when praying the Lord's Prayer in unison.  When we are worshipping with sister churches and the leader doesn't tell us which to use this time,  God no doubt hears our meaning, but the rest of us hear  "forgive us our mumble."     I served  five  of our congregations as the duly   installed pastor; they were split three to two between debts and trespasses.    

            When he gave us this prayer,  Jesus said "debts" and "debtors."   In this dispute however, tradition,  or local habit, or whatever, trumps scripture: "Jesus may have said debts but around here we don't!"     (Substituting "sins" for debts is well-intended, but  makes visitors to your church feel like they don't know what is going on. It's a less precise translation anyway.)   
 
            I'll use either word, and try to go with the flow wherever I am.    But whichever word I use, I  want to  mean what  Jesus meant. 
 
            Debts and trespasses are almost interchangeable, but not quite. All debts are trespasses, but not all trespasses are debts.  Debt applies to more than money, and trespass applies to more than real estate. My working definition is that debts  are trespasses which  incur actual harm by impeding or distorting what God intends for ourselves and our world. They cause  real damage that alters the state of things.   
 
            Saying "That's okay" is not a fix.     Lesser trespasses may be occasions for discipline, excuse, or pardon;  but these require more:  that the debt be paid, the harm repaired, the loss restored.      Forgiveness is neither excuse nor pardon, but what happens when the victim fully and willingly  bears the pain, loss, and cost without holding the trespasser accountable.   Jesus called it forgiveness from the heart. 
 
            So when we say, "forgive us our trespasses,"  we are not saying, "please excuse us, because nobody got hurt"; rather,  we are begging God to take the hit   without requiring payback.   When we dare add, as Jesus commands us to,   "as we forgive those who trespass against us," we are claiming not only that we are able to do that, but that we actually do it.   
 
              We are always able to take the hit.   I heard Canadian pastor Walter Boldt put it this way  twenty-five years ago, and have never heard it better said:      to forgive you must give up your rights. You are owed, but you don't collect! You take the hit. It is not hard to do, because you don't have to do anything.      You only have to suffer it—just like you're asking God to do for you, when you ask him to forgive your trespasses.   
             

Comments (1)


Post a Comment

Janet from Virginia writes:
July 9, 2010
Thanks for the insight!

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*


Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Location:


Comments:*
Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.



Verification:
Please type the letters you see above.

  Printer-Friendly

Bookmark and Share


PO BOOKS BY EVERETT WILSON
Real Things
A novel.
Published January 2, 2008
Temporarily Unavailable

Real Things first appeared in serialized form on the Partial Observer in 2001. It is now available in print for the first time.

Over thirty years after a senseless crash redefined his life, Greg Thompson and his family finally learn why.

More Information
RSS FEED
RSS Feed for Everett Wilson: RSS Feed for Everett Wilson
EMAIL ALERTS
Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by Everett Wilson
Necessary Things, A Companion and Sequel to Real Things
Available from Amazon Books, Amazon Kindle, and Me!
by Everett Wilson, 2/16/15
Until Barrett is Free, Neither Are We
Freedom of the Press is not a whim of the state
by Everett Wilson, 2/26/14
Why the United States Will not Get Competent Universal Health Care in my Lifetime
Six Obvious Reasons
by Everett Wilson, 11/15/13
An Open Letter to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
Clean Sweep Time
by Everett Wilson, 10/2/13
An Open Letter to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
Clean Sweep Time
by Everett Wilson, 10/1/13
Excerpt from my new novel, Scoundrels and Fools
Chapter 5: Ellis Johnson
by Everett Wilson, 7/12/13
The Rev. Marjorie Drickey's Last Message to a Dying World
And all the trumpets sounded for her on the other side.
by Everett Wilson, 2/14/13
» Complete List (151)


RSS FEED
RSS Feed for Everett Wilson: RSS Feed for Everett Wilson

Recently Published
View Article Salvator Mundi
Not the painting but the Person
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/7/17
When the Newsman Becomes News
Lamenting yet another fallen hero
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/1/17
Let's Hear It for Moms and Pops
Celebrating Small Business Saturday in a very personal way
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/22/17
An Earthquake in La La Land
Examining what's been exposed in the rubble
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/17/17
Where is God?
Reflecting on the tragedy in a little Texas town
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/10/17
An All Saints Day Tribute
Remembering those who left us
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/3/17
A Mighty Fortress was His God
Remembering the legacy of Martin Luther 500 years later
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/27/17

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.


RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?
Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2017 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top