What Jesus Did! 'Refused!' — Matthew 18:28-30

Monday, August 30, 2021

[Talking about being forgiving, Jesus continued,] "But when the man [who had been forgiven a tremendously large debt] left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

"His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it,' he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn't wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full."

— Matthew 18:28-30 NLT

Key Thought

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 treat others as God treats us. Unfortunately, the forgiven servant in the story shows himself to be unforgiving. The unforgiving servant had been forgiven a huge debt (Matthew 18:24) — a debt he could never repay. The original Greek and some older English translations say the amount was "ten thousand talents," where a talent was a unit of money related primarily to governmental budgets because it was such a huge amount. The unforgiving servant would never ever in even 10 lifetimes have been able to pay off the debt. But what his fellow servant asked him to forgive was not a small amount. It was equivalent to one-third of the annual pay of a Roman soldier, who 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 ten thousand talents, it's nothing. The issue for us is whether or not we will return the same generosity of forgiveness as we have received from God. We may have been wronged significantly, but it is nothing compared to what we have been given!

Today's Prayer

Holy God, you have forgiven me by the sacrifice of your Son. I want to forgive those I have held grudges against or have 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 being forgiving to the specific people I now hold in my heart. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Colossians 3:12-14
  • John 13:34-35
  • Luke 6:32-36


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Illustration of Matthew 18:28-30 NLT — "But when the man [who had been forgiven a tremendously large debt] left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars."

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.