Matthew 18:23-27 – Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. NKJV
This parable gives us insight to kingdom living at its finest. The king is calling his servants to him that they may give an account of all they owe him. A servant comes before him with a debt of 10,000 talents. That’s a lot of debt. If a talent is worth a dollar, that’s a minimum of 10 grand. At that time, it would have been significant. I looked up the value, but it isn’t as important as what is being said.
The servant doesn’t have the ability to pay the debt, so the king’s orders are that he is to be sold, along with his wife, his kids, and everything he owns. But he begs the king to be patient with him and to give him a chance to pay. The king is moved with compassion and releases him of his debt!
This parable follows a question that Peter asks of Jesus about how many times should he forgive his brother? Then in a magnanimous way he asks, “Up to seven times?” Jesus replies, “Up to 70 times 7”. Then Jesus launches into this parable.
After the servant is forgiven his debt, he goes out and sees someone who owes him 100 denarii. This is significantly less than what he owed the king. However, when he was asked by the debtor to give him time to pay it, the forgiven servant wouldn’t hear it, and he had the man thrown into debtor’s prison. Those who saw it, reported his behavior to the king, the king was upset, and threw him into debtor’s prison canceling the forgiven debt.
This parable is one of the easy ones to understand, although Jesus gives us insight to its meaning. Jesus concluded the parable by saying, “So my Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
It’s just that simple! We read it, we acknowledge that it is a truth, and then we have difficulty living it out. Notice, I said “we”. But Jesus is pretty clear on this! Some people are going to need forgiveness over and over and over again. No matter how many times they say they are sorry and they will never do it again, they do it again. And yes, we are to forgive them every single time because if we don’t, we won’t be forgiven.
You know what? I don’t think people really believe that their lack of forgiveness, no matter how justified, will hinder them from being forgiven by the Father. But Jesus said it would. What pain, what hurt, what wrongdoing, is worth risking the Father’s unforgiveness? When He has forgiven much, He has no difficulty to ask us to do the same.
There is no way that we can please the heart of the Father if we are always looking to have our debts forgiven, but we are not willing to forgive the debts of others. Jesus told us to pray that we are able to “forgive those who trespass against us”. He understood it wouldn’t be easy. But it is necessary, He said, if we want forgiveness.
Don’t allow anything, or anyone to separate you from God. Don’t give them the power to hinder your precious relationship with Him. It may take an act of faith, and it may be slow in happening, but if you will make a step towards forgiveness, God will enable you to do it!
Can I just give you a note of caution: If someone were to sexually abuse my daughter, I would ask God to help me to forgive that person. But I would not feel a need to become that person’s friend or to have them in my life to prove that I have forgiven them. We each must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. But I don’t believe that forgiveness means that we have to keep putting ourselves or our family members in harm’s way to prove that we have forgiven an individual.
My husband and I loaned someone about two thousand dollars. They never did pay it back. We didn’t allow that money to hinder us from fellowship, or from helping when a different need arose. We forgave and kept it moving. But we probably wouldn’t loan that person two thousand dollars again. If the Lord prompted us to help that person financially, we would do it! But it would only be at His command, because we are wise stewards of our money. Forgive, that you might receive His forgiveness; because without His forgiveness, your life will never reach it’s fullest potential! Wonderful Jesus!