"Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?" - Matthew 18:33 NKJV
The king had called in his servant to settle a debt. The servant owed far more than he could ever pay, ten thousand talents, which equaled about sixty million days wages. If every member of the man's family worked every single day and gave every bit of their wages to the king for all their lifetimes, they could never repay the debt. The king decided that the man, his wife, his children, and all that he had should be sold to repay the debt. The man was desperate and pleaded with the king to show him mercy and forgiveness. The king saw the desperation in the pleas of the man, and chose to forgive him of all the debt without any additional terms. He had been granted unmerited grace, mercy, and forgiveness. This man in turn sought out his friend who owed him a hundred denarii, about four months wages. He took him by the throat choking him, and demanded that he repay his debt immediately. The friend begged for mercy, but was thrown in jail instead.
The man had been forgiven of a massive debt. A debt that no doubt he owed. A debt that could cost him his family. Although the man knew that the debt was his and that the penalty was fair, he begged the king for mercy. The king knew that the man could never repay the debt. He heard the pleas of the man and was moved to forgive him. This man was forgiven a debt he could never repay, and his family and belongings were spared. What a gift of grace!
We too have been forgiven of a debt that we cannot repay. The wages of sin is death. Death is the penalty for us all. And yet, a merciful God showed us grace and sent His Son to serve as our redeemer, the One who would in turn pay our insurmountable debt. We talk of Him paying our debt for us. We sing about owing a debt we couldn't pay and Him paying a debt He didn't owe, but I wonder, do we really understand grace?
I personally am not always good at giving grace. Sometimes I don't want to give grace. I want to give others what they deserve. But then I am reminded of the grace that I myself was given, and I find myself being called to give the grace that I was given There is a specific area of my life where God has taught me the process of grace. He has taught me that even though some situations are grounds for me to make demands, that they are also grounds for me to forgive. He has taught me to forgive...to give grace as I myself received. I now watch someone who has been given much grace. I am watching this person be much like this servant and imprisoning the one who is in debt and yet begs for grace. I find myself much like the servants in the scripture who stand and witness the forgiven man as he fails to give the grace he was given. I too find myself running to the king and notifying him of the injustice that is being committed.
In the scripture the servants come to the king and tell him how the man who was forgiven of so great a debt is now demanding his just payment from his fellow servant. What disappointment this king must have felt. He heard the desperate pleas of the servant and granted him unmerited grace. The man was given an unconditional chance to continue his life, to keep his wife, his children, and his home. Rather than feeling an awesome sense of gratefulness, he went from debtor to collector.
This man who had made so many bad choices. This man who had made so many mistakes. This man who did not in any way, shape, or form deserve grace, mercy, or forgiveness, received it anyway in spite of the fact he couldn't make it right, even if he spent a lifetime. This man turned around and sought out another man who too had made bad choices, but not to the extent of the choices he himself had made. Yes, this man had a debt too, but it was pennies compared to his forgiven debt. This man could realistically repay his debt in less than a year. His debt was not even of the same magnitude. And yet this servant forgot the grace he himself had been shown. Maybe he didn't understand what a gift he had been given. Maybe he couldn't comprehend what grace truly was. Perhaps his whole life had been spent keeping a record of everyone else's offenses and debts. Perhaps he never had seen the ledger that held his own list of offenses and debts.
To be given grace and yet refuse to give it in return. It's hard to grasp how it can happen, and yet it does. Even when the man was brought back before the king and thrown into prison himself for his lack of mercy, I wonder if he even then understood the grace that he had been shown. I believe that rather than realize his mistake and understand the gift of grace that he had been granted, that he most likely spent his days in prison filling in a ledger of what he must have seen as injustices from the king rather than seeing the grace he had been given.
To be given a gift of unmerited grace and in turn give judgment to those who have less of a debt than you. To have had your own ledger completely forgiven, yet in turn to choke the very life from one you should grant grace. What a sad and dangerous way to chose to live life.