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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"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 NLT
Illustration of Matthew 18:28-30 NLT — "Later, that same servant found another servant that owed him a few dollars' worth of silver."

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 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!

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 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.

Related Scripture Readings

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


About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

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.