Matthew 18:21-35 “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” is a wonderful illustration of God’s forgiving nature, but also a lesson in what our response to that forgiveness should be. We live in an amazingly contentious time. Not only do we disagree on a multitude of issues, but we see opposing sides as opposing moral absolutes. We are not forgiving one another, we are judging one another. As we navigate these political waters, we must keep in mind what God wants from us. God’s grace, His gift of salvation, is not reliant on our response. We don’t earn salvation by being good people. Instead, our response is the change that takes place when we truly understand the gift we’ve been given.
There was a time when WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) was a mantra stated by Christians. At its core, it is a valuable reminder but, as many so-called “Christian” things do, it became a pithy statement, commercialized to the point it lost its designed meaning.
What would Jesus do? If we read scripture, we know: Love God, Love Others. So, why is it so seemingly hard to follow his teachings. In the parable of the unmerciful servant, the servant refuses to forgive his fellow servant despite being granted forgiveness himself. It wasn’t an unwarranted action by the first servant. He WAS owed the money. It was in his right to demand payment. It wasn’t his “correctness” that was the issue. It was the fact that he showed no mercy, only retribution. There’s a complete disconnect between the gift and the response. He forgot God’s mercy. He forgot the gift he was given.
In this time, more than ever, we need to receive God’s gift and PASS IT ON! What would Jesus Do? He already did it. All we need to do now is say, “Thank you” to God and show mercy to others.
"The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant"
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded."
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’" But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened."
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”