When asked by His disciples how many times to forgive others, Jesus responds with the parable of the unmerciful servant. Forgiven of an immeasurable debt to the king, this man had avoided a lifetime in prison, but he refused mercy to a fellow servant who owed him a small debt. The king was furious that the unmerciful servant hadn’t extended the same forgiveness he’d received—for a much smaller and comparably insignificant debt.
The message is clear: Forgive each other in the same extravagant manner our King has forgiven us.
For many of us, this process may begin by remembering the uncomfortable truth that we, too, are debtors, deserving not just imprisonment but death (Romans 6:23). Brokenness entered the world with Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and His authority, and today, the tendency toward sin is alive and well in all of us. Their shortfall, and ours, meant separation from God. Our best efforts will always fall short of the holy standard for honoring God and respecting those who bear His image.
Yet, through Jesus’ sacrificial love, our immeasurable debt to the King has been fulfilled—praise God!
And Jesus’ parable reminds us that in this broken world we will need both to ask and offer forgiveness to others. Knowing our daily struggle to live out of the mercy lavished on us, Jesus urged His disciples to pray, “... forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). With that posture, we acknowledge our sin against God, accept His forgiveness, and turn in gratitude to forgive our brothers and sisters. Having reconciled our sin debt, we can walk in love with our Creator and fellow image bearers.
Father, as we wait for You in this broken world, we will wrong others, and we will be wronged. Give us the strength to ask forgiveness and the grace to forgive. Guard our hearts from bitterness and keep us ever mindful of what it means to be a forgiven servant of the King.
by Isaac Barnes, HOPE senior marketing content writer