Forgiveness and Biblical Metaphors

Every seventh year you must cancel all debts. 2This is how the cancellation is to be handled: Creditors will forgive the loans of their fellow Israelites. They won’t demand repayment from their neighbors or their relatives because the Lord’s year of debt cancellation has been announced.

Deuteronomy 15:1-2, CEB

In Deuteronomy 15, God encourages his people to take care of one another, and to lend money freely. He tells the people that he will bless them such that there will be enough to go around. Generosity will not be a burden on the generous. In fact, he instructs his people that, every seven years, debts owed should be cancelled by the lender. This is done so that there will be no poor among God’s people, so that no one will acquire a debt that becomes too overwhelming.

This passage is, on the surface, about economics. It’s also about more than that. It lays the groundwork for one of the most primary metaphors used in scripture, and by Jesus himself, for understanding interpersonal forgiveness.

In the example of money-lending, forgiveness is the result of the lender not demanding repayment from the borrower. Forgiveness is not so much what the lender does to the borrower, but what the lender does not do. The lender does nothing when they could have done something (such as demand repayment or some other form of compensation, like throwing the borrower in jail).

I’ll say more about this tomorrow. But, in the mean time, think about this: What if forgiveness is an action? What if forgiveness is about something as simple as not demanding compensation for wrongdoing?