The Unmerciful Servant

Everyday with God
The Unmerciful Servant
Matthew 18:21-35
‘No, I am not doing it again.’ This came from my youngest son who refused to forgive his brother for the hundredth time. In the Flug house, we don’t force kids to say sorry or to forgive, because coerced reconciliation isn’t true reconciliation. Reconciliation comes from the heart. However, we do spend time talking about the benefits of forgiveness and reconciliation. I think we all can connect with my son, we have all been there, offended, hurt, wronged or broken by someone multiple times. This could be from someone in power over us, it could be a family member or friend, either way we all know the feeling of being wronged.
 
Matthew 18 is a go-to passage for the process of reconciliation. Jesus gives us helpful processes to talk through offenses and work toward reconciliation, which is really God’s heart for everyone! Even when reconciliation happens and forgiveness is given, there’s a risk of re-offense, of being hurt again and again and again. Peter picks up on this reality and asks Jesus ‘How many times shall I forgive…7 times?’ Jesus’ answer is riddled with hyperbole, ‘seventy times seven’. The idea you get from Jesus' answer is that there is no limit! Then Jesus tells this story of the unmerciful servant.
 
Here are a few things we learn from the parable. First, we come to the story understanding that Jesus is the king, and we are the servants. Jesus has forgiven us the sin that put him on the cross. Not just the little lie that I told yesterday, but our sin nature, which he took upon himself and cancelled our debt, the debt that was dragging us down to hell. Second, we get the idea that forgiveness is part of the Christian life. It’s something we do no matter what has happened to us. We have to understand that forgiveness does not reestablish trust. That may come, or it might not, but forgiveness stands alone from the reestablishment of trust in the relationship.
 
The final thing we learn is that God takes this pretty seriously. We are meant to see the ridiculousness in the first servant spurning the grace given to him by the king. I wonder how often I do the same thing. I wonder how even in the most ‘insignificant’ decisions of my life, I spurn the grace of God in how I act toward other people. Maybe it happens when the fast-food place gets my order wrong or when the person in front of me getting on the highway is still going 25 miles per hour as we merge into 65 mile per hour traffic. Those are insignificant offenses, and pale in comparison to some wrongs, but what can anyone really do to me that is more significant than what my sin nature did to Jesus on the cross?
 
Jesus ends with a stern warning that we should not overlook. There are consequences for refusing to forgive. While it may not look like physical torture, a refusal to forgive can find expression in bitterness and anger. Don’t let it get that far. Forgive, because you have been forgiven.
 
Just for today-
 
+ Who do you need to seek forgiveness from today?
+ Who do you need to forgive? What would it take to forgive them?
David Flug | Community Life Pastor

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