August 1, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
The Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9 through 13:
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your
name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive
our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the
evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever.
We are still exploring verse 12: “…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors….” Let’s look at another biblical example that may give us deeper understanding – this one from Matthew 18:23 through 35. Jesus spoke the parable of a king who was reviewing the accounts of those who were indebted to him. He came to one servant “…who owed him ten thousand talents…” (Matthew 18:24). While there is debate concerning how much a talent weighed, one estimate is 75 pounds. If it was silver the servant had borrowed, it would be worth over 250 million dollars! If it was gold, it would be almost 16 billion!!! In any case, it was an impossible sum for a servant to pay!
The king commanded the servant, his family and his possessions to be sold – but that would not even begin to satisfy the debt! Matthew 18:26 and 27: “The servant therefore fell down, before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master…moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”
Did the freed servant – freed of both service and debt – appreciate what the king had done? Go on the Matthew 18:28 through 30:
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 that 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.
A denarius was the typical pay for an agricultural worker for one 10 hour day. Considering today’s minimum wage, it would currently be worth $72.50. A hundred denarii would then be $7,250 – a significant but manageable debt.
The king was told of the actions of the servant whom he had freed and forgiven and called him in. Matthew 18:32 through 34 records what happened next:
“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as
I had pity on you?” And his master was angry, and delivered him to the
torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
Notice: the king revoked both his freedom from servitude [he is again called his master] and the forgiveness of his debt!
Did the first servant appreciate his forgiveness and freedom? No! And the proof of it was in how he treated his fellow servant! Was he ever then forgiven? Yes and no! The debt was cancelled and the freedom proclaimed by the king as a done deal. All that remained was that it had to be accepted by the servant! Obviously, he didn’t truly accept it!!!
Jesus closed this parable with this statement in Matthew 18:35: “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” It is not enough to just mouth the words concerning what Paul wrote in Romans 10:9: “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…you will be saved.” You cannot leave out that part of the same verse that says, “…and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Heart-belief must go along with mouth-confession!!! And your life must then show forth what “…you confess with your mouth…and believe in your heart…”!
By the way, this parable was in response to what Peter asked Jesus in Matthew 18:21: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? ” Peter thought he was being magnanimous. The rabbis taught that offenses be forgiven only three times. But Jesus’ answer in Matthew 18:22 blew that out of the water – both Peter’s and the rabbis’ thinking: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” In other words, if we accept and understand the magnitude of the forgiveness of Jesus, and the freedom He brings into our lives – if we understand the extent of the multitude of our sins He took upon Himself, and the resultant suffering He endured on the cross – it is a small matter in comparison to forgive any offense by another against us!
Think about this before you go off in an unforgiving huff!