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The Unmerciful Servant

Matthew 18:23-28

For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!” Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, “Pay what you owe!”

Most of you have probably read this account many times, as have I. As I read it once again this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder why the slave who received mercy couldn’t forgive his own slave who owed him much less than he had owed the king. Just why could he receive mercy but not be able to give it?

The king in this parable represents God. As He looks at our sinful condition, He fully realizes that we have no means whatsoever to pay for our sins. Even if we gave everything we had, it would not be enough to pay what we owe Him or to compensate for the wrong we have done in our lives. If we are to continue as fully functioning individuals, we need forgiveness of our sins (debt) in order to live a productive and meaningful life. Otherwise, we are good for nothing in God’s kingdom. God saw our depleted condition and gave us His Son as payment in full for our debt. He paid the price we could not pay so we could live abundant lives and further His kingdom on earth.

We are the slave who has been forgiven much, and if most of us are honest, there are times when we really have difficulty forgiving others, who owe us much less. Why do we find it hard to grant mercy at times? Some of us are given a gift of mercy, which just flows all the time. Others of us, however, don’t naturally possess mercy and have trouble with forgiveness. I admit that I fall into the latter of the two categories. Since I can relate to the slave with no mercy, I should be able to understand his position, but I really had to think about this to realize why he did what he did.

The slave who had been forgiven did not like having to plead for mercy and never wanted to be in that position again. He did not like being subject to the king and owing Him anything. Therefore, he demanded all that was due him because he wanted to be able to stand his own ground if the king ever approached him again. If he had everything that was owed to him, in his mind, he would be able to pay the king whatever debts he might owe him. The reason the slave who had been forgiven could not forgive is pride!

If there is anything in us that thinks we can pay God what we owe Him, we are both prideful and foolish. Not only that, we are tyrants to those who we think owe us anything. We can never demand enough from others to pay what we owe God, and He would never think more highly of us even if we could pay Him back. Our salvation comes through grace, which we do not deserve, and any favor we may receive for promotion in life comes through grace, which we do not deserve. Pride will fool us into believing that if we had everything we deserved from others, we would not be lacking before God and others.

The key to overcoming pride is to recognize it for what it is – a liar! You can never repay God. He does not think less of you because you had to plead for mercy. He simply wants you to fully receive the grace He has given you and multiply it by giving it to others. This spreads His kingdom in the earth and gives Him something He can bless. Creating larger numbers does not grow God’s kingdom; extending His grace does.

If you weren’t given a spiritual gift of mercy, you are certainly not alone! Spend some time in prayer today releasing those who have wronged you or owe you in any way. There may be some who could never repay you, but you hold the key to your own well-being. Repent of any signs of pride you see in yourself, and begin to appreciate the grace that God has fully given you in Christ. The more you see and accept your own need for grace, the more you will be able to give it. No one likes being vulnerable or empty, but it is the best place to be before a God who is rich and abundant with grace! Allow Him to fill you to overflowing so pride has no more room to operate. When you begin to advance God’s kingdom through forgiveness, you will find His grace going before you to give you favor like you’ve never dreamed! Trust me and read the rest of the story. Releasing pride and offering forgiveness brings a much better result than the alternative!

Have a blessed day!

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