Forgive Us Our Debts

There are many different translations of the Bible, and sometimes the Bible contains different versions of the same story, parable, or prayer. One prayer that I’ve used different words for is the Lord’s Prayer. While the overall themes of the different versions  are the same, sometime the precise language speaks to me differently.


The version of the Lords’ Prayer that we usually use in church includes this passage:

forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

We also use a version that says:

forgive us our sins as as we forgive those who sin against us

But the version that resonates with me this week goes like this:

forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

I had a week of carelessness, bad timing, and bad luck with banking and bill paying. I managed to bounce a check to the IRS twice, although at least the second time I was able to catch it before it got sent back to the IRS again. Then my daughter’s rent check was not received on time, so on Friday she received a nasty “summons” threatening court action if they did not receive payment in full (including a hefty late fee) within three days–i.e., by Monday.


I had an excuse for every mistake.

I thought the IRS check was lost, and had sent another check that already was cashed last week. But I had forgotten to put a hold on the first check. 

The rent check was sent via my bank’s on-line bill paying system, and should have arrived on time. But I had scheduled it for delivery on the last day of the grace period, instead of on the 1st of the month.

So, I found myself at the mercy of my bank’s customer service representatives (the IRS was not answering their phones due to the government shutdown!) and my daughter’s apartment leasing company.

Forgive me my debts.
I made a mistake.
Is there anything we can do now so I don’t go to jail and my daughter doesn’t get evicted?

For the most part the people at the other end of the phone were willing to listen to my tales of woe and took time to figure out how I could make the necessary payments as quickly as possible. For the IRS check, it was largely a matter of timing. I quickly made an on-line transfer from my savings account into my checking account, and was able to speak to someone who could authorize processing and payment of my rubbery check before it got returned. For my daughter’s rent, the person I spoke with had several ideas that involved trips to Western Union, 7-11, or FedEx–all of which would have involved missing my conference to find those places and paying even more fees. I was about to give up (and hope my check arrived Saturday) when he suggested that I try making an on-line payment. Apparently the on-line payment system is not supposed to work when the rent is late, but he suggested I try anyway, and took the extra step of looking up the account information so I could get into their system easily. I was relieved when it went through–and I did remember to put a hold on the first rent check so that won’t bounce too!

I am grateful for the technology that let me look up phone numbers and call the people I needed to speak with. I am grateful for the computer systems that let me take care of business when I was several hundred miles from home. But most of all, I am grateful for the people who worked with me to get my accounts straightened out.

Now that these debts have been forgiven–or at least rectified–I need to remember to forgive my “debtors,” and take the time to be kind and compassionate to others when my first tendency might be to be hurried and impatient.

Have you ever made a costly mistake?

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2 Responses to Forgive Us Our Debts

  1. Kim says:

    What a very valuable lesson.
    Years ago when the boys were little (I tried to chalk it up to being sleep deprived but…) I entered one of Chris’ bi-monthly pays 2x instead of just once – it was a bit of a mess!!! Thankfully our bank was very nice about all of it!!!
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  2. My mortgage comes out of my account aromatically. In 9 years it has always come out on the same day. Then once this summer it was two days late and still nothing, I assumed something went wrong and paid it. 2 more days later it suddenly came out, 4 days late, on its own and all my accounts bounced everything. I had to go to the bank and beg for forgiveness and help.
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