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Student Loans and Forgiveness

With the recent news of student loans being forgiven up to $10,000, some are not rejoicing. Their reasons include that this will further destroy our economy, unfair to those who paid off their student loans, and those who opted to go to trade school rather than university. Out of all the rebuffs to those of us who do not think this bailout is such a grand idea, equating student loan forgiveness to that of the work of Christ on the cross has to be the worst.

For example, many are quoting the Lord’s prayer where it says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive others,” accusing us that we really do not take our Bibles seriously and are certainly not demonstrating Christ-like compassion for those poor hapless souls who have got themselves into debt by aiming for a gender studies degree. The theologian, Dr. James White, tweeted in response to those who make such a wild correlation between student loans and the sinner’s debt, “Know neither theology nor economics.”

Forgiveness is indeed a huge emphasis within Christianity. It dominates as one of the central themes of the gospel message itself, and the call to forgive others is replete within the Bible. However, the forgiveness of student loans and the forgiveness of the sinner’s debt are not the same.

As people, we have sinned grievously against God. We have lied, stolen, disobeyed our parents, and murdered people within our hearts through hatred (Matt. 5:21-22). We have taken God’s commands and thrown them out, living as if we are the ones in charge. All the while this is happening, the sins we commit are stacked against us in accusation, putting us further, to use an economic term, into the red. Unlike student loans that can be paid off (and many people have done that), the debt of sin that we owe is far too great, compounding more and more until we have left with reconciliation, an impossibility. To make matters even direr, the consequence of having this debt is death (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, we are left with a debt we can never possibly pay, an eternal condemnation that looms over us, and a consequence that shadows our every day, reminding us of our peril.

Hope for those in that situation will not come in a $10,000 hand-out. As stated before, the sin debt we owe is impossible for us to pay off. Such a great debt requires a greater payment than what we can afford, leaving us hopeless. That is until we look at what Christ has done for the sake of individuals. Through his crucifixion and resurrection, he not only takes our sin debt upon himself but pays it in full, leaving nothing to be owed. So, again, borrowing from economic phraseology, because of Christ’s finished work, the one who has faith in Jesus is forever “in the black.”

To compare the recent student loan bailout to the reality of the gospel is to cheapen the sacrifice of Christ and reveal the ignorance of how much forgiveness costs. The purchase of the forgiveness of sins costs Jesus Christ’s life, which cannot be compared to the paltry sum of $10,000, which hardly puts a dent in anyone’s student loans. As communicated in the gospel, the forgiveness of sins is far greater and more profound than we can even comprehend. So much so, in fact, that according to Peter, angels long to look into this reality (1 Peter 1:12).

You may benefit from the government giving you $10,000. You may even be able to pay off your student loans with those funds. However, the sin debt you and I owe cannot be paid off by a check or any monetary sum. In other words, if you can have your student loan paid off but still owe terribly. That debt will remain until the payment of Christ is received and applied to your life by faith.

And then you can say, “Jesus paid it all and all to him I owe.”

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