[Forgive] each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
The parable of the unforgiving servant is not so much about God forgiving us as it is about our willingness to forgive other people. Look at Matthew 18:28: “That slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’”
I imagine as the first slave walked out of that palace a forgiven person, he replayed the king’s words over and over in his mind: “You are forgiven. You are forgiven of that debt.” Then he thought, “You know, there is somebody who owes me some money as well.” So he went and found this slave who owed him a hundred denarii. A denarius was one day’s wage, so this debt was small in comparison to what the first slave owed the king. But he started choking his fellow slave and demanded, “Pay back everything you owe me and pay it back now!”
How did the fellow slave respond? Look at verse 29: “His fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’” Do those words sound familiar? It is exactly the same thing the first slave said to the king. But unlike the king, this first slave refused to show mercy to his fellow slave; instead, he threw him in prison.
Now, some other slaves reported all this to the king, and he summoned the first slave back to the palace and said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” (vv. 32-33).
The relationship between the first slave and the second slave is a picture of our relationship to those who wrong us. The first slave had a legal right to demand his hundred denarii back. But he had no moral right to ask for it given the much greater debt from which he himself had been released. And that is what Jesus was saying to us. There may be somebody in your life who has hurt you deeply. And because they have hurt you, they owe you. You may have a legal right to hold on to that debt they owe you, but you have no moral right to hold on to it if you have received God’s forgiveness in your life. Because God forgave us of a debt we could never repay, we are to forgive others of their offenses against us.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Freedom Of Forgiveness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org