Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
For a servant forgiven of his enormous debt towards the king, we would expect him to go on his merry way, forgiving those who also owed him money. A person who received mercy becomes a person of mercy, right? Sadly, this is not what happens to the servant in the story. Jesus continues, “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt” (Matthew 18:28-30).
How did the servant go from being forgiven of ten thousand bags of gold to grabbing a fellow servant who owes him a pittance of a debt—a hundred silver coins—and choking him and demanding repayment? The servant may have felt entitled to do it. He may be doing the math and thought to himself, “You know, I was standing before the King owing ten thousand bags of gold because of deadbeats like this guy who wasn’t paying me back for the money that I had lent. It was actually his fault that I was in that position.”
The servant had what psychologists would describe as “cognitive dissonance.” He was happy to receive mercy, but he was unwilling to give mercy. There was a dissonance between what was happening in the king’s chamber and what he was doing in his life now. He could not see the grace required in both situations. He thinks he should be a recipient of grace and mercy, but it is disconnected from his perspective of what should be extended to others too.
If the servant saw his fellow servant before he met the king, the hundred silver coins that was owed would have been owed to the king. This debt that he was demanding to be repaid had already been cancelled by the king. He had been given freedom but he was still living like he was in bondage. He did not realize that he had been forgiven.
Like the servant, some of us may be living in bondage to our sin when Jesus has already forgiven all of our sins from the moment we confess them to Him. May we live in the freedom of Christ, knowing that our debt does not exist anymore, and extend His mercy and grace to everyone we meet.
Gracious God, thank You for setting me free from the bondage of sin. Help me to extend Your mercy and grace to everyone I meet.