“You ruthless servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Mt. 18: 32)
This is the situation. The king, who says these words, had forgiven the servant a huge amount. But this servant did not forgive a fellow servant who owed him a small amount. Instead he sent him to debtor’s prison.
The other servants heard about this miscarriage of mercy and reported the forgiven-but-not-forgiving servant to the king. This sets up the king’s question: “Should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”
Everyone seems to “get it” but the forgiven servant. The king and the other servants know that the burden of being shown mercy is to be merciful to others.
Why didn’t the forgiven servant get it?
The parable doesn’t tell us, but we can guess.
The forgiven servant took his forgiveness lightly, probably as getting lucky. Then he promptly forgot the whole thing and went about his business with the usual knee-jerk reaction of “pay me back or I will punish you.”
The lesson for us is simple but difficult.
- Remember the times we were shown mercy. Perhaps it was a parent, or a teacher, or a friend who responded with graciousness when we most needed it but least deserved it.
- Host these times in our minds and hearts.
- Ponder how significant they were.
- Be grateful to the people who were involved.
The more reflective time we give to our experiences of receiving mercy, the more willing and creative we will be in showing mercy.
How has mercy welled up and overflown in your life?
© John Shea