Jesus told his disciples the following parable:
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:23-35)
I mentioned in a previous post that a couple of weeks ago I knocked down my friend’s mailbox. And when I say knocked down, I mean splintered the wood post holding up the mailbox into two pieces. The entire mailbox had to be replaced. I was so embarrassed. I asked for forgiveness and offered to pay for the replacement/repair of the mailbox. My friends not only forgave me but waived the debt — out of mercy and kindness.
The week before this incident my father-in-law, who lives with us, accidently broke my creamer container that matches my sugar container. I was so sad because I had become attached to my creamer using it every morning to warm up my Coffee Mate creamer to go in my coffee. I had bought it at Home Goods, so you know it was very inexpensive. He apologized profusely. Even though I accepted his apology, I told my FIL that he would have to buy me a new one. Last week (a week after the mailbox incident) my creamer came back to mind. I got hot. I still did not have a new creamer and I had a good mind to walk down the hall and demand money so that I could go buy myself a new creamer.
But then I stopped. Or rather the Holy Spirit stopped me bringing to mind and heart this parable from Matthew 18. I was that wicked servant! Having been forgiven a huge debt of hundreds of dollars, I was about to go demand a debt owed me of $10. Embarrassed. Convicted. Ashamed. I walked back to the kitchen and asked God’s forgiveness right then and there.
But it wasn’t just this incident that came to mind. How often have I been forgiven by my husband for a $50 splurge in a weak moment on a piece of clothing or household item only to jump on his back for going over budget by spending $2 on a muffin at his work? How often have friends and family forgiven me for a quick-tempered moment or hurtful words spoken by me only then for me to hold a grudge for something spoken by them to me in haste? The list goes on, but the fact remains that even though I want and desire mercy and forgiveness I often don’t want to give it to others. I don’t treat others as I wish to be treated. And, no matter what sin or debt others do or owe me it is nothing compared to the debt of sin that I’ve committed against God. And if God can forgive me of that great of debt, then I can forgive others of smaller debt.
This parable reminds me then of three things:
1. I have been forgiven a tremendous debt by God.
2. Out of my gratitude that I have been forgiven much, I should want to and should practice forgiving others’ debt to me.
3. If I don’t forgive as God has forgiven me, my Father, my God will show me the same unkindness that I have shown to others. Do I fear God enough? Do I believe God to keep His promises?
“Father, thank you for forgiving my debt of sin against you. Now, may I go and do the same to others showing kindness, love and mercy in my words, thoughts and deeds. Amen.”