The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 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. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” — Matthew 18:21-35.

In this context this story is clear enough, painfully clear. It illustrates the Lord’s prayer that we ask forgiveness as we forgive. This unmerciful owed millions, and he was forgiven his debt. But he then turned around and exacted a hundred days wages. But he had no sense of forgiveness or mercy. And it all came back on his head at the end, or in judgment day.

There is no incongruity with God’s magnanimous forgiveness and his ruthless judgment. It is because God is so compassionate and merciful that he cannot and will not tolerate those who are not. People who do not forgive do not truly know what it means to be forgiven–they see it as a personal gain and something to be used to gain personal power over others.

Just as God has forgiven us all our many sins, we should forgive others who sin against us. Their sins against us are minute compared with the immensity and amount of sin that we have committed against God and others. Forgiven people forgive others.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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