“If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property…what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.” —Leviticus 25:25, 28
Some of us may believe that our sinfulness is an individual event between us and God with limited consequences, but it is not. Sin throughout Scripture is oftentimes communal in its impact on those around the person who is wrapped up in sin. In Jesus’s story about a servant who owes the king of heaven an enormous debt, He tells us, “Since [the servant] was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt” (Matthew 18:25). The whole family is wrapped up in this man’s transgressions.
Although it may seem unfair for the servant’s debt to affect his family, this was considered normal practice in New Testament times. A husband or father’s debts were passed on to the family and they would bear the cost. If the family was unable to pay, they would be sold into slavery, serving to pay off their debts. But God, in a move of radical grace and generosity, included into His provisions that if a family fell on hard times and lost their land, there was a pathway back to a financial reset in their life. It was called the Year of Jubilee, which occurs the year after the seventh seven years, where the land would return to them and all debts were cancelled.
The full weight of the servant’s sin and debt was put before him. He saw the devastation that it brought to his family. His eyes had been opened, he was alarmed and he was undone. Matthew 18:26 reveals, “At this the servant fell on his knees before [the king]. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’” It is actually an act of grace when God allows us to feel the full weight of our sin. When our eyes are open to what it is doing to those around us, it is God’s mercy at work because when we are wrapped up in sin, we believe the lies that the adversary speaks about our lives and we begin to speak those very lies to ourselves. We are self-deceived and do not realize what sin is doing to those closest to us.
The master took pity on the man, cancelled the debt and let him go. Even though the man deserved prison, he was given freedom. His family was about to be sold into slavery, but he received them back again. The debt that hung over his life had been wiped clean.
May we understand that when sin takes root in our lives, those closest to us—the people that we love and treasure the most—are also being affected by it.
Almighty God, thank You for opening my eyes to what sin is doing in my life and how it affects those that I love and treasure the most. It is only by Your grace and mercy that I am free from sin. Praise You!