Jesus’ parable about the unmerciful servant has a stunning conclusion.
‘You wicked servant,’ [the master] said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Read the entire parable in Matthew 18:21-35.
A lack of forgiveness is costly
Consider Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp’s thoughts on this parable.
Regardless of how big or small the offense, canceling a debt and absorbing the cost is going to hurt.
But the parable shows us that not forgiving also has a price, and it is higher than the price forgiveness demands.
This is where we must let the truth override our feelings since it often feels good to hold onto an offense. That good feeling, contrasted with the pain of forgiving, blinds us to the bill we’re running up spiritually.
The price of a lack of forgiveness
Jesus clearly says that an abiding unwillingness to forgive will cost you eternally! God will treat you the same way you treat others.
An entrenched refusal to forgive is a sign that you have not known God’s amazing forgiveness yourself. Your ugly behavior reveals the ugly condition of your heart.
In addition, holding onto an offense will make you a bitter and unloving person, and you will inevitably damage all your relationships. No matter which way you choose, you will pay a price.
The forgiven forgive.
Jesus teaches us to pray to the God who adopted us as his children, “Father, forgive me my sins.” Why show such mercy? Jesus explains, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). “Forgive each other,” Paul urges and then provides the motivation, “just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Forgiven as thoroughly and freely as we are in Jesus, we Christians no longer have reason to carry a grudge, to plot revenge. We only have reason to forgive.
Source of quotation: Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp. New Growth Press, 2012.