Delivered on September 17, 2023.
So it’s my tradition after the prayer of the day to bring a message to all of God’s children. And today I have with me a few coins. I have a quarter, a dime, a nickel, and some pennies. We use money – usually plastic money rather than physical money – to pay for things and the work people do. For example, if I wanted to buy a pack of pokemon cards in person, I’d need to go to the store – pick a pack – have the store tell me how much that costs – and give them the amount of coins or dollar bills for me to walk out the door with it. We’ve decided that money has value – and we can exchange that value for something else of value too. But what happens if we don’t have enough money for what we want?
We don’t get it. Or we borrow money to buy it.
Right. We can borrow money – telling a company or a bank or a friend or our parents that, we promise, to pay back, eventually, what we owe. If I’m explaining this correctly, when we borrow money – we take on what is called a “debt.” We’ll get the pokemon cards but we’ll owe money to someone else. And that other person or bank or whatever will often charge us “interest.” They want to make a little money from us by giving the money first hand. So sometimes we take on debts – believing and trusting or knowing we can pay that debt off in the future. Every person and family has different debts they can safely hold and, sometimes, debt becomes a problem based on things we can and can’t control. Knowing our debts – and how having a debt impacts our thoughts, feelings, and life – are important. And the language of debts – and situations about debts – show up in our Bible all the time.
Jesus will, in a few minutes, share a story about debts. He’ll talk about the story of someone who owed someone else 10,000 talents which is a lot of money. But this person couldn’t pay it back. They were going to be punished for it – but begged for another chance. Instead of being given more time to pay it back – or lessening the amount or anything of the sort – Jesus talks about this person having their debt forgiven. What do you think it means for a debt to be forgiven? Accept.
In this story, the debt is wiped away. It’s now 0 and the person no longer has to pay it back. Imagine having a debt for the pokemon cards and always just having to worry about it. But now…you wouldn’t. The debt is gone so you can live and act as if it no longer exists. That kind of forgiveness is freeing. It enables us to do things we might not be able to do. And Jesus, in the story, invites us to practice that kind of forgiveness. Part of what we do as followers of Jesus is to live as if forgiveness is real. It’s something we experience and something we offer to others. Forgiveness, though, is really difficult because it can involve more than just money. Our feelings or our bodies or our emotional health might have been impacted by the behaviors of others or we might have done something, said something, that hurt someone else too. Forgiving someone in those cases might not be something we can, or want, or should do since it might ask us to forget or act as if something that harmed us never did. Forgiveness is hard and complicated work – but if we pay attention to what forgiveness does in the story Jesus shared – we can see what forgiveness should do. It should be difficult, costly, but also freeing – something that, if we can, we offer to others. It’s about letting ourselves and others live freely – but not to simply just do or get what we want. But rather, a forgiveness that recognizes how we all need forgiveness because we are not perfect yet we receive that forgiveness from our God who wants to free us from our hurts and how we hurt each other so we can love, care, and support one another just like God does with us – everyday.