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The Pastor's Blog

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THE UNFORGIVING SERVANT




Jesus taught His disciples to follow the Golden Rule. “Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them” (Matthew 7:12). Similarly, Jesus instructed His followers to grant mercy and forgiveness. “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven … forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors … For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses”(Matthew 6:9–15).


With a sanctimonious air of superiority, Peter approached Jesus asking, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Jesus’ response was shocking. “I tell you, not as many as seven … but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). I think that Jesus might have continued, “when you’ve forgiven your brother four-hundred-nighty times, keep forgiving, but quit counting.”


To illustrate His demand for merciful forgiveness and Christ-like love, Jesus told a parable.


“The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle accounts, one who owed ten thousand talents was brought before him. Since he did not have the money to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. At this, the servant fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything.’ Then the master of that servant had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan” (Matthew 18:23-27).


The wealthy businessman had an overdue account… “ten thousand talents.” Some scholars suggest that a talent was equal to seventy pounds of gold… That means, in today’s economy, the accounts receivable was worth billions. Hyperbole? Others suggest that a single talent was equal to six thousand denarii, or six thousand day’s wages. Ten thousand talents would equal about two-hundred year’s wages… a ton of money! “Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything” was the man’s request. Unfathomably, the rich businessman forgave the debt… all of it. “Paid in full!”


The servant who had been forgiven the enormous debt went straight to his friend, one who “owed him a hundred denarii.He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’ ” (Matthew 18:28). When he was unable to repay his debt, he was sent to prison.


When the rich businessman heard of his associate’s unforgiveness, he came and said,

“ ‘Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And because he was angry, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed” (Matthew 28:32-34).


Paul preached this truth. “As God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive” (Colossians 3:12–13). “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:32).




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