Recently, President Joe Biden announced that he would erase student debt up to $10,000 for every person making less than $125,000 in income. For those who receive a Pell Grant, their debt elimination would rise to $20,000.
The decision by the president to unilaterally spend $330-$800 billion of taxpayers’ money will have tremendous implications. Some say that those implications will be beneficial. Others say they will be detrimental to the economy.
According to a statement on the White House web page, “President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the U.S. Department of Education have announced a three-part plan to help working and middle-class federal student loan borrowers transition back to regular payment as pandemic-related support expires. This plan includes loan forgiveness of up to $20,000.”
Regardless of what one may believe about the supposed benefit or detriment of this decision, this recent action by the president provides us an opportunity to think about the reality of the truth of forgiveness.
“Forgiveness” is such a kind and gracious word. Shouldn’t we all be more forgiving? C’mon. Who would not be for forgiveness?
Christians believe in forgiveness. Not only do we believe that we are forgiven; we seek to be forgiving. God forgives the sin of any who trust in Jesus. But when it comes to this latest decision about loan forgiveness, we need to remember two truths about forgiveness.
1. A person cannot extend forgiveness on behalf of another person.
I can’t forgive for you. You can’t forgive for me. If a person owes me money, I expect and should expect that that person pays me back.
My neighbor does not have the ability to tell the person who owes me that he doesn’t have to pay me back. I can decide that the person’s debt is forgiven, but only I can decide that. It is my money. It is my bank account. It is my loss. If I decide to forgive, then I take responsibility for incurring the loss and will deal with it. It is my decision to make.
According to Christianity, the believer is one whose sins are forgiven by God. He is not forgiven by his pastor or his priest.
The super-religious and legalistic Pharisees who heard Jesus say that he was forgiving the paralyzed man (Mark 2:6-7) were right in their criticism to ask, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus could in fact offer forgiveness because Jesus is God.
2. Forgiveness does not mean the erasure of debt.
As much as President Biden wants to speak the debt away, somebody has to pay for it. Somebody will pay. When God forgave, he didn’t gloss over a person’s sin debt or act like it never happened. No, he himself, in the person of his Son Jesus Christ, paid the debt for sin.
Sure, speaking of salvation and forgiveness, the Bible says, that the “free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) It’s certainly free, but it’s not without cost. Notice that the free gift of God is in Jesus. God put the debt on Jesus. Jesus paid the debt. Yes, those who believe are forgiven, but Jesus paid the price. As the song says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay…” This is the crux of the Christian faith. Jesus didn’t dismiss or erase it all. Jesus paid it all.
Debt doesn’t just go away. Debt forgiveness is costly. Many may not have to pay their debts, but somebody will pay. B&R