The Unforgiving Debtor

Daily Bible Reading – 1 Chronicles 14,15; Psalm 132; Matthew 18

Today’s Key Passage – Matthew 18:21-35


In today’s key passage, Jesus teaches us about having an unforgiving attitude.  Peter asks Jesus how many times he needs to forgive someone who has sinned against him, and then he offers up his own possible answer of seven times.  Before we move on, we need to understand this in the context of the day.  Jewish law mandated that you must forgive another person three times, so when Peter offered up the answer of seven times he probably believed he was being very generous with his forgiveness.  He was likely expecting Jesus to commend him on his answer, but instead Jesus told Peter that he should forgive his brother seventy-seven times.  (Note that some translations say seven times seventy times or 490 times total, but the point Jesus is making is that we should not worry about counting how many times we forgive someone and should instead always forgive others.  The fact is, if we are keeping count of how many times we have forgiven a person, we probably have not actually forgiven them at all.)

In order to illustrate His point, Jesus goes on to tell the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor.  In this parable, there is a man who owes the king ten thousand talents.  (Most scholars believe this is the equivalent of roughly $10 million, but some scholars estimate it as high as billions of dollars.  The point is the debt was large enough that it could never realistically be repaid.)  The king wants to collect his money, but the servant is unable to pay him this large debt, so the king threatens to sell everything the man owns as well as his family to repay the debt.  The servant drops to his knees and begs the king for mercy, and the king agrees to cancel his debt completely.  Now imagine you have just been forgiven a $10 million debt.  That would be a pretty good day right?  You would likely celebrate your good fortune!  Instead, the debtor went out and found a fellow servant who owed him a hundred denarii.  (Most scholars estimate this to be roughly $20.)  He grabs the servant who owes him $20 and chokes him, demanding to be repaid, and he ultimately has the man thrown in jail over the $20 debt.  When the king hears this, he calls the servant back in and reinstates his debt of $10 million and puts him in jail to be tortured until he can pay.

If you are a follower of Christ, you are like the debtor who owed an unimaginable amount of debt to the King.  Our debt is our sins, and we all have a lot of this debt built up from our lives here on earth.  Fortunately, God has cancelled our debt through the cross of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.  Though we have been forgiven so much, how often do we keep an unforgiving heart toward others?  When we are wronged by others or treated badly, we hold onto that anger and refuse to forgive them right away, and we are in essence demanding payment for a “$20 debt” after being forgiven a “$10 million debt”.  How often do husbands and wives say, “I can forgive my spouse for anything except this one thing”?  How often do people say, “I just cannot forgive that person for what he or she has done”?  Usually, when people have trouble forgiving others, it is because they do not completely understand their own forgiveness.  Many people believe that God forgives them for almost all of their sins, but that God is still mad about one or two really bad things from the past.  This is simply not the case!  Colossians 2:13-14 says, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”  When we truly understand the forgiveness of God, we will find that it will become impossible to have an unforgiving attitude toward others.  Do not hold onto an unforgiving heart over a $20 debt.  Instead, rejoice in your own forgiveness and trust in God’s perfect righteousness.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.


Posted on May 1, 2014, in 01 - Matthew and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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