When I Will Not Forgive
“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” Matthew 18:32-33
I don’t generally think of myself as bitter, resentful, or unforgiving. If I’m honest though, there are those whom I struggle to forgive. Mostly, it’s those who have offended me and have refused to acknowledge the offense. I’ve been hurt and I feel these individuals owe me, so, I hold a debt over their head – in my mind. I don’t want to let go of the hurt and resentment until I see tears and groveling. The thing is, these individuals will never acknowledge the injury, admit fault, or ask forgiveness.
Jesus though, commands that we forgive those who offend us – whether they admit fault or not. He says that we are not to hold a debt over another’s head, and in today’s passage, he explains why.
In the parable, a king confronted a servant who owed him 10,000 talents. For reference, a talent was worth about 20 years of wages for a laborer. This servant then, owed 2,000,000 years’ worth of labor, something he had little hope of repaying. The king ordered the servant and his family to be sold to pay off his debt, but the servant begged for mercy, and the king relented, forgiving the debt.
How did the servant respond? He turned around and demanded that a fellow servant repay him one hundred denarii, the equivalent of one day’s wages. When the second servant couldn’t pay, the first had him thrown in prison. Though he had been forgiven two million years of debt, the wicked servant refused to forgive one day’s debt. The king got word of this and unforgave the first servant, throwing him into prison.
As we have been forgiven so much by God, we must forgive others the relatively small offenses they commit against us – whether they ask or not. In our pride, we refuse to acknowledge how much we have been forgiven. In our resentment and bitterness, we create our own misery. When we look to God however, admitting how much we have been forgiven, we find it easier to take our eyes of our own hurt, letting the debt go, and surrendering it to him. It is only in forgiving others that we may rest in the peace of God’s mercy and grace.