March 10 – The Unforgiving Servant
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
Jesus answered, “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
How many times have we forgiven someone who keeps on hurting us? We all have those people in our lives who will hurt us, beg for forgiveness and promise to never do it again, and then do it all over again. Jesus tells us to keep forgiving them, but why? What good is it to forgive someone who constantly hurts us? To understand, look at the sins we have committed against the Father. We sin and hurt the Father. We go to Reconciliation and ask for forgiveness, promising we will never do it again, yet we still fail. Our God does not want us to fail, and knows in our heart when we are truly sorry for our sins. He will always offer us the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. When we experience the Father’s forgiveness, we should want to share that forgiveness with others, even though it may be difficult.
Through His parable, Jesus puts the forgiveness of the Father into the perspective of how much we should forgive and what will happen if we do not. First, let us pretend that 1 denarii equals 1 sin. The second servant who was not forgiven committed 100 sins. One talent is equal to about 6,000 denarii! That means the servant who was completely forgiven was forgiven of 60 million sins!!! What a blessing, joy and relief he must have felt when leaving his lord. Yet, after being forgiven of all of those sins, he takes his fellow servant by the throat and demands he pays up. When we are forgiven and are truly sorry for our sins, we feel relief and joy, yet this unforgiving servant feels nothing by anger towards this one who only owes him “payment” for 100 sins. If he was truly sorry for having owed that much money and had joy in his heart for not continuing to owe that amount, then he should have shown that same mercy and compassion to his fellow servant. Because he would not forgive, he was thrown into jail and had to pay back all of his debt (or 60 million sins worth).
Finally, we are called to be an example of the Father’s forgiveness. People know we are a followers of Jesus, and those who do not know Him will use us as an example of how a Christian should behave. We may be their only example of forgiveness, and it may change their hearts. If we are stern and convict those who sin against us, like the unforgiving servant, they may decide they do not want to be part of something that is so unforgiving and strict. We do not want to become a stumbling block and turn them away from the Father. Therefore, as an example of the Father’s forgiving love, we must always forgive.
Lent in Action:
Forgive everyone who has ever hurt you completely!
Forgiving Father, thank you for forgiving me completely for all of my sins, no matter sin or number of sins I need to be forgiven for. Thank you for the joy in Reconciliation and I promise to share that joy with others. Help me to also be an example to others by also forgiving those who have hurt me. I ask this through your Son. Amen.