"Later, that same servant found another servant that owed him a few dollars' worth of silver. The servant grabbed the other servant around the neck and said, 'Pay me the money you owe me!' The other servant fell on his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.' But the first servant refused to be patient. The servant told the judge that the other servant owed him money, and the other servant was thrown into prison. The servant had to stay in prison until he could pay everything he owed."
— Matthew 18:28-30
Isn't it amazing that God often gives us the opportunity to return to others what he has been so generous in giving to us! That's what this story is about: whether or not we will treat others as God has treated us. Of course, the forgiven servant shows himself to be unforgiving. Unfortunately we miss a key point of this parable because of translation and monetary equivalences. The unforgiving servant had been forgiven a huge debt—a debt he could never repay. A talent was a unit of money that only cities or governments traded in because it was such a huge amount. The unforgiving servant owed ten thousand talents! He would never ever in 10 lifetimes be able to pay off the debt. But what he was asked to forgive was not a small amount. It was 100 denarii. While our translation has "a few dollars" given as a translation, we really need to put into perspective how much money this smaller debt actually was. A Roman soldier earned 100 denarii per year. A soldier was in the middle to upper middle income bracket of the day. So forget the exact dollar amount and understand it this way. Could you easily forgive a debt owed you by someone if it amounted to one third of your yearly paycheck? Ouch! That's a serious debt. However, when compared with 10,000 talents, it's nothing. The issue for us is whether or not we will return the same generosity of forgiveness as we have received. We may have been wronged significantly, but it is nothing compared to what we have been given!
Holy God, you have forgiven me by the sacrifice of your Son. I want to forgive those I have held grudges against or let an unforgiving heart grow cold against. I want to forgive as you have forgiven me because I want to reflect the grace of Christ. Dear Father, please help me live treating the specific people I now hold in my heart with forgiveness. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, when my brother won't stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive him? Should I forgive him as many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, you must forgive him more than seven times. You must continue to forgive him even if he does wrong to you seventy-seven times. " "So the kingdom of heaven is like a king that decided to collect the money that his servants owed him. The king began to collect his money. One servant owed the king several thousand pounds of silver. The servant was not able to pay the money to his master, the king. So the master ordered that everything the servant owned should be sold, even the servant's wife and children. The money would be used to pay the king what the servant owed. "But the servant fell on his knees and begged, 'Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.' The master felt sorry for his servant. So the master told the servant he did not have to pay. The master let the servant go free. "Later, that same servant found another servant that owed him a few dollars' worth of silver. The servant grabbed the other servant around the neck and said, 'Pay me the money you owe me!' "The other servant fell on his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.' "But the first servant refused to be patient. The servant told the judge that the other servant owed him money, and the other servant was thrown into prison. The servant had to stay in prison until he could pay everything he owed. All the other servants saw what happened. They felt very sorry for the man. So they went and told their master everything that happened. "Then the master called his servant in and said, 'You evil servant. You owed me much money, but you begged me to forgive your debt. So I told you that you did not have to pay anything. So you should have given the same mercy to that other man that is a servant with you. You should have given him the same mercy that I gave you.' Themaster was very angry, so he put the servant in prison to be punished. And the servant had to stay in prison until he could pay everything he owed. "This king did the same as my heavenly Father will do to you. You must truly forgive your brother or sister, or my heavenly Father will not forgive you."
Related Scripture Readings
God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So always do these things: Show mercy to people; be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Don't be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If another person does something wrong against you, then forgive that person. Forgive other people because the Lord forgave you. Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is the thing that holds you all together in perfect unity.
"I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other like I loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other."
"If you love only those people that love you, should you get some special praise for doing that? No! Even sinners love the people that love them! If you do good only to those people that do good to you, should you get some special praise for doing that? No! Even sinners do that! If you loan things to people, always expecting to get something back, should you get some special praise for that? No! Even sinners lend to other sinners so that they can get back the same amount! "I'm telling you to love your enemies and do good to them. Lend to people without expecting to get anything back. If you do these things, you will have a great reward. You will be children of the Most High (God). Yes, because God is good even to the people that are full of sin and not thankful. Give love and mercy the same as your Father gives love and mercy.