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Balancing the Books of Offenses: A Forgiveness Lesson From Accountancy

Book of accounts
Image credit: in Unsplash

Offenses, trespasses, or in a spiritual sense, sin represent a form of debt. In certain circumstances, debt repayment could become problematic creating bad debt. A bad debt is one that has remained unpaid beyond the agreed or acceptable timeframe.

No wonder Jesus taught his disciples to negotiate forgiveness in their prayers.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12, NIV).

This requires acknowledging that we are in deficit through our actions, thoughts, and words.

Whenever we offend people or trespass in any way, we incur a liability or a negative standing that would cost something to make good.

Same way, when people offend us, there is a tendency for those negative balances to accumulate in our hearts and minds.

Those heavy balances of unredeemed offenses and the hurts they cause have a way of growing with each day they are rolled over.

How accountants handle debts

A debt can only be redeemed with something of equal value to the outstanding sum or whatever was lost.

Accountants handle this situation in two ways.

While the balance of the debt remains outstanding, they carry it over daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly in the books of accounts.

However, once they establish that the debt is irrecoverable (which could take years), they would proceed to write it off.

Choose the best method

Accountants carry over balances of bad debt year after year until there is no more hope for a recovery. Essentially, they are forced to write off bad debts when all hope is lost.

Jesus wants us to be more generous with the timing of the write-off, considering we also desire and expect similar gestures from both man and God.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV).

We all behave like accountants sometimes. We keep carrying over the offenses and the balances of other people's errors and mistakes until the relationship becomes irredeemable.

But Jesus wants it all written off and the ledger closed.

This is exactly how God treats our own bad debts of sin and disobedience.


We are all flawed and tend to offend often. When dealing with offenses, you can choose to carry them over as long as you want.

But if you desire forgiveness from God, get into the habit of routinely letting others off the hook.

Try it and see how light it feels when the weight of unforgiveness and grudges is lifted.


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