23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle accounts, they brought to him a servant who owed him ten thousand bags of gold. 25 Because the servant didn’t have enough to pay it back, the master ordered that he should be sold, along with his wife and children and everything he had, and that the proceeds should be used as payment. 26 But the servant fell down, kneeled before him, and said, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ 27 The master had compassion on that servant, released him, and forgave the loan.
28 “When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred coins. He grabbed him around the throat and said, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’
29 “Then his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ 30 But he refused. Instead, he threw him into prison until he paid back his debt.
31 “When his fellow servants saw what happened, they were deeply offended. They came and told their master all that happened. 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.”
I don’t know about you, but this parable makes me uncomfortable. And well it should. We don’t often talk about the anger of God. But here, it’s on full display against those who fail to forgive as they’ve been forgiven.
Last week, in the devotional about the “forgive us our trespasses…” line in the Lord’s Prayer, we touched on the need WE have to forgive those who wrong us. We learned that forgiveness is required to counteract the bitter poison of anger, hatred and resentment that can grow in our own souls when we fail to forgive (like the wicked servant).
Today’s parable makes it clear that for Christians, forgiveness is rooted not only in our own deep need, but also in a profound sense of gratitude for what God has done in forgiving our own sin.
We can’t accept forgiveness without having the readiness to offer it to others. Anything less means that we have failed to fully grasp the implications of the gospel. If we believe we can accept Christ’s forgiveness without paying it forward, we’ve interpreted Christ’s work on the cross as something narrowly meant for us, rather than for all people.
But Christ’s work of forgiveness that flowed over us at our conversion was NEVER meant to stop with us. To attempt to hold it back from others is like trying to dam up the river of divine love and grace that was poured out in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Ultimately, that’s not only fruitless, it’s foolish. It’s foolish because it was never God’s intent. If our aim is to do the will of God, then remember, it begins with forgiveness!
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
I hope that this parable continues to cause discomfort for us whenever we realize that we have forgiveness work to do. If this applies to you today, ask Jesus for the grace to begin the process. Forgiveness often takes a long time. But it’s the only way to live according to the way of our Savior.
Prayer: Gracious Lord Jesus, we thank you that you have offered us a new life through the forgiveness of our sin. Today, we ask that we might share your grace with another sinner who needs it too. May we never be guilty of trying to hold back the flow of your cleansing, healing love. Amen.