23Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25But 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. 26The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
Matthew 18:23-27 (NKJV)

The Master is in a Gracious Mood Today!
Do you want all your debts canceled? The master seems to be in a gracious mood today – if you beg him, he’ll forgive all your debts! I can do that – I’m not too proud to beg if it means that my family members and I won’t be sold into slavery to pay the debt I owe. How about you? Would you let your family members be sold into slavery to pay your debts? Of course you wouldn’t!

But God did! He allowed His only son to be put to death as payment for our debts so that we and our family would not be sold into slavery. What debts you ask? The debts accumulated by our rebellion against God (yes, the very same God who paid those debts) and our other sins.

So when the master called in the debt of the servant, the servant begged for more time. The master was gracious toward him and not only said “ok, you have until next week” he said “let’s call it even – your debt is totally forgiven.”

The Servant – Not So Much
Hallelujah! Time to celebrate, right? One would think so, but this forgiven servant wasn’t so gracious.

28“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!’ 29So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
Matthew 18:28-30 (NKJV)

After being forgiven a debt of $1,000, the servant refused to forgive the $100 debt owed to him. After being shown compassion, he showed no compassion to others. Well, as the saying goes, “your deeds will find you out.” Here’s what happened next:

31So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
Matthew 18:31-34 (NKJV)

When the master learned that the servant had treated others in such an unforgiving manner, he arrested and jailed him. I find it interesting here that the master still showed compassion on the servant’s family. He remained compassionate toward the family members, not selling them into slavery to repay the uncompassionate servant’s debts.

The kicker comes in Jesus’ concluding sentence. He teaches the lesson from the parable in this final sentence:

35“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Matthew 18:35 (NKJV)

The Kingdom of Heaven
In the Kingdom of God, forgiveness is not an option.  The first words of the parable are “the kingdom of heaven is like.” The Kingdom of Heaven has a King who is compassionate and wants to forgive all our debts. He expects us to respond with no less compassion. When we do not, He allows the jailer to torture us until that debt of compassion is paid.

Do I need to point out who the jailer is what kind of torture we’re talking about? The jailer is satan, of course. The torture may take many forms, but I find most commonly it is the torture of a mind that becomes controlled by our lack of forgiveness. It darkens our days and produces sleepless nights.

We can choose not to forgive, but at that point, we are not being practicing Christians. We are not putting into practice what God has defined as a basic element of our faith – to act toward others as God has acted toward us.

How About You? Are You in a Gracious Mood Today?
Friends, may I encourage you to pray with me as Jesus taught us to pray?

9b Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9b-13 (NKJV)

To be sure we don’t miss the message, Jesus follows the prayer with this statement:

14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)

Lord, help us to forgive.

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