You wicked slave!…Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:32b–33
Jesus told a story about a man who had a large debt forgiven by his master, only to ruthlessly demand the payment of a much smaller debt owed to him by another servant. This is hypocrisy at its most virulent. When someone has been forgiven an immense debt, how can they justify their own unwillingness to return that same grace and mercy to others?
Jesus told this story so that we might understand the appropriate way to respond to God’s mercy. We are sinners through and through; we sin against God and one another by what we do and by what we fail to do—and yet God has forgiven us our failings and continues to forgive us still. How can we not forgive others as freely when we have been injured or wronged? For Jesus the answer was implicit—forgive the little sins others inflict upon you, because God has forgiven the immensity of your own sin.
Who do you need to forgive?
Lord, I hang on to petty grievances and grudges as if they were my lovers. When I am wronged, I fume, I rage, and I look for an opportunity for payback. I am all too often the ungrateful servant. When You have had such mercy on me and forgiven all my faults and failings, I should do the same for others…even when they do not ask for it. Help me and forgive me, for my reluctance to extend mercy to others is part of my own great sin. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.