The Unforgiving Servant

July 27, 2021

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses (Matthew 18:23-35).

There are a number of profound and spiritual truths that can be drawn from this parable, but the point of the parable is this: Christians, who have themselves been forgiven their immeasurable sin debt by God, are to extend the same forgiveness, in the same measure, to their fellow Christians. Christians are to . . . be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

There is no doubt that Christians still struggle against the power and influence of flesh that remains in them. And it may be that the power and influence of the flesh would cause a Christian to withhold forgiveness from a brother or sister for personal reasons or with unholy motives. But the Apostle Paul reminds us (Romans 6:11-12), Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. We must resist the temptation to be like the world and demand our ‘pound of flesh’ from those who wrong us. We must distance ourselves from the ‘lex talionis’ whereby a punishment resembles the offense committed in kind and degree. We must remember that God in Christ Jesus has forgiven us all our sin, and to be Christlike is to do the same toward our fellow Christians.

“Lord Jesus, keep my mind, heart, and spirit free from the attitude and desire to retaliate when someone has wronged me. May I always be quick to forgive, even when the offender refuses to apologize or repent. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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