One of my favorite parables is the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor found in Matthew 18:23-35. In this story, Jesus tells of a servant who owes a large debt to his king. Unable to pay the debt, the servant pleads with the king who eventually forgives his servant of this insurmountable debt. Later on, we see the forgiven servant demanding payment from another servant for a lesser debt owed. The forgiven servant, outraged at the other servant’s inability to pay the debt, has the debtor thrown in prison. Other servants, seeing what has taken place, report all of this to the king, who in turn throws the once forgiven servant to the jailers.
We are left with the chilling warning, “So also will my heavenly Father do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35) We too owed the king an insurmountable debt that He paid for us with His Son. How much more should we be willing to forgive just as we have been forgiven?
Jesus only gives this parable because Peter asks Jesus, “If my brother sins against me, how many times should I forgive Him?” It is important to note that Peter’s question is personal. “If my brother sins against me.” Not, “If my brother sins.” Not, “If my brother sins against someone else.”
In our lives, people will treat us poorly. Fast food workers will give us the wrong order, drivers will cut us off, our friends will be poor friends. How should we respond? Are we to behave as our flesh desires to behave? With revenge or a never ending grudge?
Are we unwilling or incapable to see the mistakes that we make each and every day as well? Do we not see the sins we commit against our brothers and sisters? Is our sin better than their sin? Of course it is not. We desire to be forgiven by our bothers and sisters when we make mistakes. Are they less deserving of forgiveness than we are?
Christianity and grudges are like oil and water. They do not mix. As Christians, when we hold grudges against our brothers or sisters, it shows that we are forgetting the Gospel. That the person we are angry with was not good enough for salvation, but that neither are we.
Beyond our earthly relationships, just like the servant who owed the king a large debt, we are unable to pay our way to salvation. (Romans 3:23) Yet God does not see us through our sin, but sees us through the righteousness of Christ. I like to compare it with my youth students to purple tinted glasses. When we look at the world in purple glasses, everything is purple. When God looks at us through His Son, He sees the righteousness of His Son. May we be Christians who try to see others in the way that God sees them, instead of the way our flesh sees them.