Trespasses or Debts?

Yesterday at church, we said together the Lord's prayer.  Depending on which tradition in which you were raised, in the fourth line  of the prayer we either say, "Forgive us our debts" or "Forgive us our trespasses."

If you look in the actual biblical text, the Greek word opheilēma is almost always translated as "debts" and means "that which is owed."

But just after the Lord's prayer, Jesus says in vs. 14, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

This Greek word means to "go where we should not go, or do what we should not do."

I actually prefer trespass over debt in the Lord's prayer, because it connects me more readily and practically to what sin often is... in gossip, we go where we should not go with our words... in lust, we go where we should not go in our anger, we go where should not go in  our actions.

If confession is part of your daily or weekly routine, or if you say the Lord's prayer regularly - allow it to lead you to think about the meaning of the word trespass as a way of seeing  more clearly what sin is. 

In this way, we can stay within the bounds of what Jesus called "the narrow way."

Grace & Peace,

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