Forgiveness is powerful. In Matthew 18:23-34, Jesus teaches about the importance of forgiveness in the form of a parable. Let’s take a look at what He says, starting with verses 23-25 (NKJV).
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.”
According to my NASB Bible footnotes, 10,000 talents—for a laborer—was more than 150,000 years’ wages! The NASB footnotes at BibleGateway indicate an estimated debt of 60 million working days (also for a laborer). The servant’s debt was astronomical! He owed so much that it wasn’t physically possible for him to work it off. He couldn’t even repay it with His own life. His life, the lives of his wife and children, plus all that he had was to be sold.
Take a look at what happens next in verses 26-27 (NKJV):
“The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”
The servant asked for patience, offering to repay the debt. I believe that the master knew his servant couldn’t pay the debt through work. Moved with compassion, he forgave the debt completely. The huge sum of money owed, he forgave.
What an incredible display of mercy!
Let’s put ourselves in the servant’s shoes. If someone forgave you this way, how would it affect the way you forgive others? Would you show the same mercy to someone else who owed or wronged you? Let’s read about what the servant does in verses 28-30 (NKJV):
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.”
According to NASB footnotes at BibleGateway, a denarius was “a day’s wages for a laborer.” To owe 100 denarii meant the fellow servant owed him 100 days’ wages. What did he do? Although the fellow servant begged for patience so he could repay, the first servant refused and threw him into prison.
What this second servant owed was extremely small compared to the ten thousand talents owed by the first. The first servant was so indebted to his master that he owed more than his life. We too, are unable to pay the debt for our sin. Jesus took our place on the cross and made a way for us to be forgiven. Through Jesus, our debts are pardoned, and we can have new life in Him. The master’s forgiveness of his servant is an example of how God has forgiven us.
Take a look in verses 31-34 (NKJV) at what happened when the master heard what the servant did:
“So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.”
Forgiveness is so important. God is compassionate, merciful, and full of grace. We are recipients of his mercy and are to extend that mercy to others. If you’re holding onto an offense today, I encourage you to release it. Give it to God. Choose to forgive, and allow God’s mercy to flow through you to others. Release the weight of carrying a grudge, and open your heart to receive God’s peace.
Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day with Jesus!