The Great Debt
by Pastor Jeffrey Smith
Do you know someone who enjoys taking food from your plate? I call these types of people food burglars. Each food burglar has their own unique approach. Some people will be with honest with you, while others wait until you’re distracted to get what they want. Also, in a league of their own, are those who cleverly pretend to engage you in conversation as they quietly reach over to snatch their prize, just below your eye level. Ironically, if you ever tried to steal from your food burglar friend, you might not be as successful. Usually, you're told to find your own stash of food since they unwilling to share with you.
Many times in life we want or need something for ourselves that we are reluctant to give others. Jesus used a story in Matthew 18 to illustrate this point. In this story, a king chose to settle up on all of his accounts. Various people owed him money, and one servant owed him 10,000 talents, which is equivalent to $7,000,000,000. In Jewish culture, there was no such thing as filing for bankruptcy. If you could not repay a debt, you and your future generations would become lifetime property of the person you owed. Imagine the hopelessness of having to repay this ginormous debt. The servant begged the king to have mercy, and the king agreed to forgive the debt owed. You would think a man forgiven of much would then extend the same grace to others. Unfortunately, shortly after being freed from his debt, the servant runs into another man who owed him a small debt (equivalent to $15,000) and demanded him to pay the money owed to him. He treated the man cruelly threw him in prison. Word of the servant’s altercation got back to the king and the king became furious. He ordered the wicked servant to be tortured and put in prison until he could pay the debt. Jesus ends the story,
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:35
We, like the servant, have been forgiven of a great debt that we could never repay. God graciously and lovingly gave us mercy. Often, we are reluctant to extend forgiveness to others due to hurts, offenses, or disappointments. We believe holding a grudge against someone or making them pay for their mistake will settle matters, but the opposite it true. Unforgiveness imprisons our souls. Let’s never forget the magnitude of God’s forgiveness towards us through the Cross of Christ. The Cross provides the correct lens in which we learn how to deal with hurts and offenses. We forgive because we have been forgiven much.