Forgive us our debts – John Hargreaves

The Lord’s Prayer

Extracts from “An Address Given in Switzerland in 1984 by John Hargreaves (one of my favorite authors)

Chapter 6 – Forgive us our debts.

‘At one level, of course, this command relates to human behavior.  If someone treats us badly, he incurs a debt to us.  But if we react, and so admit his action into our own consciousness, we accept his debt as our own.  An action may be bad, but reaction is just unintelligent! This is for two reasons.

First, we accept the action twice over, because this is what reaction means.

Second, we thus identify our own thinking with the external, and so depart from the kingdom within.’

The word “forgive” means, literally, “give for, or in place of,” and so we have to give something in place of a debtor before we find something in place of our debts.  What is it that we have to give, and why is the spiritual translation of this verse “And Love is reflected in love?”

The basic belief of mankind is that it can expect something of matter.  The world is thought to be our debtor.  It owes us a living, a share of good, our place in the sun…. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine any aspect of mortal existence where matter is not, or is not expected to be our debtor.  It owes us, in belief, our existence itself.

In consequence, mankind is in debt to matter at every point.  Believing that life is derived from matter, mortals also believe it is deprived by matter.  Believing that matter, which is another word for “externalisation” or “objectification” owes us everything, mortals owe it everything in return…

So if we are to be released from our indebtedness to matter, we must first lose the belief that it is our debtor… We read in Science and Health  that “Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love… and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter…”


On page 16 of Science and Health, in the chapter title ‘Prayer’ Mary Baker Eddy gives us what she understands to be the spiritual sense of the Lord’s Prayer.

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors – And Love is reflected in love.”

So in a nutshell, there is no intelligent matter, we owe matter nothing and matter owes us nothing.  God is Love, thus being made in his image and likeness, we are expressing God’s nature, that is loving.  When we live in God, we cannot be anything but loving thus we find that ‘love is the royal way’ as Christ Jesus demonstrated.  Does this not relate to the 2 commandments Jesus gave us.

“Love one another, as I have loved you”

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