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

The conduct described is almost impossibly disgusting and cruel. The debt here amounted to a few dollars. Yet the hands that a minute before had been wrung in agony and extended in entreaty now throttled the poor servant; and with the voice that had been pleading for mercy a minute before now gruffly growled, “Pay back what you owe me!” He had just come through an agony of experience that might have made him tender, having received a blessing that might have made his heart glow. But even the repetition of his own words does not touch him. And so, he flings the poor debtor in prison. Could a man be like that?

The things that are monstrous in our relations to one another are common in our relations to God. Every day we see and do this very thing. Do you never treasure up somebody’s slights? Do you never tuck away the record of some trivial offense against you? It is but a penny against a talent, for the worst any of us can do to another is nothing as compared with what many of us do toward God. But we score down our neighbor’s act against us with unforgiveness. The monstrous servant in the parable is just like us. Having been forgiven, he did not forgive. Our Lord implies here the principle that God’s mercy to us is to set the example for our dealings with others. “Shouldn’t you have had mercy…just as I had on you?” God’s forgiveness is the model and the motive that inclines and enables us to forgive. Let us always forgive.

Adapted from In His Presence