Ever had a credit card debt?
Imagine owing the bank millions and having no way of repaying it. The bank threatens to take your home and all your assets leaving you and your family broke, homeless and in a state of poverty. The bank has every right to do so. It’s YOUR debt that is outstanding. They are completely justified in casting you aside for failing to repay what you owe.
But what if the bank turned around and said “hey, you know how you owe us millions? Forget about it. We’re going to cancel the debt and wipe your record clean”.
Well that’s exactly what Jesus has done for you.
Jesus often spoke in parables. Parables are stories with a deeper meaning to help break things down for us. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells us about this man (the “debtor”) who had borrowed money from the King (the “creditor”).
A debtor is someone who owes money.
A creditor is someone who is owed money.
The King decided to collect what was owed to him however the man could not pay so he was to be sold along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned to pay the debt. Talk about loss. That’s literally losing everything.
The debtor fell down and begged:
‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’
Filled with pity for him, the master released him and forgave his debt.
The King FORGAVE his debt. All of it. He knew the man had no way of repaying what he owed so instead he took pity on him and cancelled the debt setting the man free. The debtor did not repay the creditor. He did not earn forgiveness of his debt but forgiveness was freely given by a merciful King who took pity on him.
So what happens next? This same man, the debtor, leaves the King and finds his fellow servant who owed him some money. This was substantially less then what he had owed the King. We see the debtor is now the creditor having someone who owes him money. You would think that the he would be ecstatic and grateful that his HUGE debt was forgiven that he would forgive the tiny debt this fellow servant owed him.
Unfortunately that’s NOT what happened.
The debtor/now creditor leaves the King, finds his debtor and grabs him by the throat DEMANDING instant payment.
WHOA! That escalated quickly!
His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time.
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.
We’ve seen this scenario before. However, instead of forgiving the debt (as the King did for him), the creditor had his fellow servant arrested and put into prison until the debt was repaid in full. Some of the other servants who saw this were upset and reported to the King. The King called in the man he had forgiven and said:
‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’
Then the angry King handed the man over to be imprisoned and tortured until he had paid his entire debt. This is the parable and Jesus warns:
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
It’s not that God imprisons or tortures us but our decision to sin means God must hand us over to the consequence of our sin. God would rather have us suffer temporarily on earth and come to a repentance then to suffer eternally in hell for our sin.
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10)
God is holy and He cannot affiliate with anything that is not. In order to receive forgiveness, we must forgive (Matthew 6:12). In order to receive mercy, we must show mercy (James 2: 12-13; Matthew 5:7 ). Our failure to act in this Christ like manner causes us to lock ourselves out from God’s presence. We imprison ourselves and we suffer when we are separated from God but forgiveness through Christ reconciles us back to God.
I wonder do you show mercy to others? Do you forgive like Christ has forgiven your debts or do you keep a record of wrongs? Do you hold the sins of others against them and bring them up when it suits you? The debt you owe Christ will always far outweigh the debt anyone will ever owe you. Don’t believe me? Ask the Spirit of God to search you.
“..the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? (1 Corinthians 2: 10-11)
God knows exactly what’s inside your heart and your mind. The world might not always see what’s inside you but the Spirit of God can search every nook and cranny inside of you and reveal the wickedness that lies there. Don’t be afraid to ask God to search you. Don’t be ashamed to bring the darkness into the light. Only then can it be defeated. It has power over you when it is hidden but in the light, the power of sin is destroyed. The Holy Spirit can identify your sin and help you recognise it so you can bring it into the light and destroy it through Christ.
We don’t know all the ways we have offended God. I can sum it up and say that most of us have all sinned against God in some way if not, every way. Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6).
Some of us act as though we are God’s personally appointed debt collectors. We’re not. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). When God forgives our sins, He blots out our transgressions and forgets them (Hebrews 8:12; Isaiah 43:25). He casts our sin into the depths of the ocean (Micah 7:19). Jesus was manifested to reconcile the world to himself not counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5: 18-19). If Jesus Himself is not counting the sins of those forgiven, who are we do to so? There is only one judge. We need to pray for those who fall into sin not hurl their sin back in their face.