June 11

Text: Matthew 18:33-35

“'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?'  And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.  So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." (NASB)

The situation: A servant (possibly the steward in charge of the holding) was impossibly indebted to the owner.  (It was not unusual for a steward to manage a holding for an owner.)  The holding was not producing the profit it should.  Thus the owner (a king) conducted a financial review of his holding.  The owner called for the servant to pay his indebtedness.

The story: Upon the discovery of indebtedness, the owner confronted the servant.  The servant could not repay his enormous indebtedness.  The owner’s only recourse was “to cut his loss”—sell the servant and his family (perhaps individually).  The servant humbly begged for time.  He promised the impossible.  He would repay everything.

The owner felt compassion for his slave.  He forgave the entire debt.  The slave’s disaster was ended!

The forgiven slave encountered a fellow slave who owed him a payable debt.  He violently demanded immediate payment.  He was humbly begged for time.  Instead, the forgiven slave placed his debtor in prison until the debt was repaid.

The result: The act of the forgiven slave was reported to the owner.  The owner was enraged at the wickedness of the forgiven slave.  The original debt was invoked.  The slave who owed the impossible debt was imprisoned and tortured until full payment was made.

Lessons: (1) It is wickedness to fail to treat others as God has treated us.  (2) The character of God and our blessings determine our behavior.  (3) The forgiveness of God means God rules a forgiving people.

Suggestion for reflection: If God treated you as you treat others, what would happen?  (Read Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:12, 13.)

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