3/18/2020 – The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
Passage: Matthew 18:23-35
Written By: Kaytlyn Martinez – U of A Wesley Intern
When reading this parable, the first thing I thought of was the dreaded student debt… *insert dramatic music*. Imagine how great it would feel for someone to completely wipe all of that clean – no strings attached, just completely gone? I, for one, would be probably the happiest person on Earth – completely grateful to the person who chose to wipe my slate/credit clean. But would I be able to remember that joyous feeling when it was my turn to forgive someone if they have taken advantage of me?
When I was in High School, my youth group spoke a lot about the idea of paying it forward. Ya know, paying for the person behind you (this actually happened to me once at a Starbucks and I was ecstatic) or passing on the human kindness however you can throughout the day. It can be something small like paying for coffee, or something huge you would see on the Ellen show. Whatever it was, the point was to show a meaningful act of mercy/kindness to those around you to show that good people still exist.
In the parable, the servant owed a lot of money to his master (probably not as much as a student loan, but these were different times). Instead of throwing him in prison for failing to repay it, he decided to forgive him and let him go. However, when the servant was released, he chose to ignore what just happened to him, attack one of his peers who owed him money, and throw HIM in jail. The audacity of this man! When the other servants heard, they reported him to the master. The master was furious and had him sent to be tortured. Harsh times, but a great lesson to be learned here.
For me, this story is not just about mercy and forgiveness, but leading by example. The servant did not learn from the act of mercy shown to him by his master. He instead ignored his teachings of forgiveness and lashed out in anger on his peer who owed him. That is not what we are called to do as Christians. We are called to embody the teachings of Jesus and to show mercy to those who are vulnerable and in need. We are called to be advocates for one another in faith and love. Loving your neighbor can be difficult, especially if they have wronged you or you feel like they “owe” you something. It is important to remember that we are all human and will make mistakes. Forgiveness is not easy, but if Jesus died for the forgiveness of your sin, you can surely extend forgiveness to those who you feel are indebted to you in some way. Because, remember in the beginning when we talked about how good this felt? So, my challenge for you this Lenten season is to think of ways you can lead by example in showing mercy and kindness to someone around you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” In order to see this happen, we have to be the example.