"The master 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."
— Matthew 18:34-35
God is gracious and merciful until he finds those to whom he has freely dispensed mercy and they withhold it from others. The key principle of mercy and grace is this: it must be shared when it is received or it is never appreciated. God is very angry with an unforgiving, unmerciful, and uncharitable heart. So let's be gracious and tender and kind. Let's do it without regard to social rank or racial heritage or ethnic origin. Let's do it simply because God's first done it to us!
Holy God, help me to be more merciful with those who stumble and more harsh with those who refuse to forgive. Please give me a sense of balance so that I may know, celebrate, and proclaim your mercy in its radical glory. 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.' The master 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."