Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Forgiveness of Debts

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Forgiveness of Debts

Article excerpt

Exodus 14:19-31; Exodus 15:1-11, 20-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

The 1970 big-screen romantic drama Love Story made famous the slogan "love means never having to say you're sorry." Soon after came John Lennon's infamous rejoinder: "Love means having to say you're sorry every five minutes." The fab singer-songwriter was closer to the gospel truth.

Seeking and receiving forgiveness is a necessarily repeatable interaction within the human family. Breaches occur. Brokenness happens. Continuously, things must be set aright.

Reconciliation takes many forms. By grace or goading, God resolves injustices. In the gruesome accounts of Exodus 14 and 15, Egyptians die that Israelites might live. Yet considered from the perspective of enslaved laborers fleeing to freedom, God is praised as the only one who could restore their dignity and hope: "Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?" (Exodus 15:11).

As the Creator is ultimately in control, Paul calls God's people to respect one another and leave the judging to God (Romans 14). Love, says Paul, means forgiving others for what would have been seen as radically different lifestyle choices--whether to eat meat, drink wine, or observe the Sabbath--knowing that they are accountable only to God. …

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