All of the parables we’ve been studying have the purpose of showing us God’s heart and the magnitude of his love for us. In this one Jesus wants us to understand the importance of his forgiveness in our lives and our forgiveness for others.
We could never repay the debt he paid for us on the cross, nor could the first servant in this story. He and the King both knew his debt was too huge to ever be repaid, but the King showed great compassion and completely forgave his debt. Having received that gift of grace from the King, the servant went on to forgive everyone who owed him and was an example to all of the same mercy he had received. Wait, no! That’s not how the story goes. The forgiven servant did just the opposite. One of his fellow servants owed him money (much less) but he showed him no mercy and had him thrown in prison. He didn’t understand grace.
Sometimes we forget the price that Jesus paid for our debt of sin. When the Holy Spirit reveals what’s been hidden in the darkness of our souls and the unloving, unkind, disobedient parts of our hearts, it is the defining moment when we cry out please forgive me Father. In that moment he takes pity on us, or in the Greek, has compassion for us and wipes the slate clean. When we experience that forgiveness and compassion from the Lord, do we automatically become always forgiving, compassionate people?
Have you ever assumed something about someone, or judged them based on a past situation? Guilty. Have you said the words I forgive him/her in your mind/prayer in obedience, only to find your heart was never fully in it, because when the bandaid gets torn off, you start feeling the pain, and old feelings of resentment rise to the surface? Guilty. It was temporarily covered, never really healed, and has been affecting other relationships in your life. Or maybe you’ve not forgiven yourself for something you’ve confessed but held onto. Repentance and forgiveness is an ongoing need in our lives, so that bitterness doesn’t take root.
The forgiven servant’s testimony of grace was rendered ineffective the moment he didn’t offer compassion. Other servants observing were “greatly distressed” and reported him to the King. (People are watching us to see if we practice what we preach) Are we happy that finally “justice” will be served and that scoundrel will get punished? If so, maybe even that reveals how we judge others. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Refusal to forgive makes it impossible for us to understand and experience the forgiveness of God for us. Ultimately, God is the judge, not us. Matthew 5:45 tells us he “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Pray with me Psalm 139:23-24 today …
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
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