Matthew 18:32-35 (CEB)

32 His master called the first servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you appealed to me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt.

35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


We often talk about kindness being contagious, and it’s true! Maybe you’re having a really bad day, but someone holds a door open for you. It feels good, so now instead of letting any anger you may have out on a cashier, you smile patiently. That makes them feel good. So maybe they then are more friendly to the next customer, and so on. It’s a tangible way we experience God, right? God has gifted us all grace and when we share it, more people feel it.

But sometimes, we can be super nice to someone, but that kindness seems to end there. It’s extremely frustrating. Today’s text comes after Jesus’s famous line about forgiving people “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.” Here we see a rather surprising end to the text; it almost seems to read “If you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.” But I’ve often looked at it more as a warning that just as kindness can spread, so can wrong actions.

Being mean is also contagious and we must consciously work not to spread bad actions even if they come to us. I hope the fellow servant in the text didn’t spread the lack of mercy he experienced from the first servant. I hope the master didn’t see his servant’s lack of kindness as a reason to never show mercy to someone again. Today and every day, we have the choice to see evil and refuse to let it spread.

By Rachel Callender

For Pondering & Prayer

Think about what tends to trigger unkind words or actions in you. It can be from fear of finances, isolation from quarantine, or even just bad traffic. What is one thing you can do today to keep from spreading your own frustrations or anger?

Prayer: Holy God, we thank you time and time again for forgiving us, even when we don’t always forgive others. Center our hearts, Lord, so that we may be a source of your love in the world. Amen.