June 4 – Parables – The Unmerciful Servant

Read Matthew 18:23-35

“But she did that to me. How could I ever forgive her?”

“You have no idea how much he hurt me. Forgiveness is out of the question.”

These are phrases we probably think when confronted with the idea of forgiving someone who has wronged us. I know there have been times in my life where forgiving is the last thing I wanted to do. People wrong us, and forgiveness is hard. But Jesus calls us to forgive others, no matter the wrongs they’ve committed. He illustrates this through a parable.

A king wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One of them owed ten thousand bags of gold. Since he couldn’t repay his debt, the king ordered for him, his family, and everything he owned to be sold to repay it (v. 23-25). The servant must’ve been terrified.

“Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything” (v. 26). The king took pity on him and cancelled his debt (v. 27). Not just extended his time to pay it back, but cancelled it completely. What a relief that must’ve been! Ten thousand bags of gold- that’s a lot of money, worth at least a few million dollars. This man had no hope of repaying that amount of debt. But where he was hopeless, his king showed mercy and compassion.

This parable shows us and God. God is the king in the story. We are the servant. We owe a massive debt to God because of our sin, which separates us from him. But because he is a merciful and compassionate king, he will cancel and forgive our debt, no matter the size, if we ask for it.

But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus goes on to tell the importance of relaying that forgiveness. When the servant left the king, he came across a fellow servant who owed him only a hundred silver coins- a mere fraction of what he himself owed. But instead of forgiving the debt and showing mercy to the debtor, he demanded the payment immediately. When the servant couldn’t pay it and begged for more time, the forgiven servant threw the debtor in jail until he could pay (v. 28-30). How unfair, right? The first servant gets all of his debt cancelled, but instead of showing that mercy to others, he showed malice towards the man who owed him almost nothing.

As you can imagine, the other servants weren’t happy. They told the king what happened, and he had the servant thrown into prison until his original debt was paid (v. 31-34). At the end of the story, Jesus explains what this parable means for us. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (v. 35).

Jesus showed how important forgiveness is. He has shown us insurmountable forgiveness and mercy, and it’s our job to forgive others. How will you respond the next time someone wrongs you?

Grace Wasson

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