“He who cannot forgive a trespass of malice to his enemy, has never yet tasted the most sublime enjoyment of love.”― Johann Kaspar Lavater – Swiss Philosopher, Theologian
In some Christian circles there is huge debate over the Lord’s prayer. Some quote Matthew 6:12 as, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” while others say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Amplified is powerful, “And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment]” (feelings of bitterness or indignation). The Greek opheilema—DEBT is that which is owed, an offense, or a sin. But verses 14-15, say, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses.” This word paraptoma or TRESPASS means a false step, a falling away, a lapse, a sin. It is to fall away after being close-beside; a lapse or deviation from the truth, an error, a slip up, a wrong-doing that can be (relatively) unconscious, or non-deliberate. It is clear that Jesus meant we are to forgive BOTH one another’s debts (intentional offenses, what is owed us) and trespasses (people’s errors or lapses in judgment). We want God to forgive ours, don’t we?
To TRESPASS means to enter the owner’s land or property without permission, to make unfair claims on or to take advantage of, to commit an offense against a person or a set of rules. If we infringe upon another’s property, the police can be called or we might be shot by the owner. But we trespass relationally all of the time—intentionally or not in areas where we do not belong, or with people and situations that aren’t ours. Israel gave a trespass or guilt offering when they had inadvertently committed a sin against someone or a violation of God’s holy things. The offending person had to pay 20% in reparations over the damages they’d inflicted. Violations against God’s holiness and against one’s fellow man were very serious and required restitution. The priest would slaughter a male lamb, then put blood and oil on the violator’s right ear, thumb, and big toe. Someone had to pay for debts, sins, and offenses. Then, it was an animal. For us it is JESUS, the spotless Lamb of God, who paid it all once and for all! He’s also forgiven our missteps, and lapses in judgment. We are to do the same.