“The servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Have patience with me, and i will pay you everything.” Matthew 18:26
As we finish the first full week of lent we have reveled in the truths of Jesus’ grace for us, his lifting of our burden, his marriage arrangements and his silencing of the accuser. Today we will think on “how grace impacts not only our self-perception but also how we perceive and treat others.”
Think of those people in your life that are hard to forgive. Maybe the old friend that has betrayed you one too many times. Or the boss who shows you no love and expresses her low opinion of you to others. Maybe the spouse that is selfish and demanding. Why is it hard for us to forgive them, or even graciously interact with them? Have we missed something in the connection between the grace we have been given and the grace we are called to give out?
Just as we are pondering these questions Jesus tells the story of the indebted servant. The servant owes his master an exaggerated amount of money – one impossible to pay back.
When it comes time to repay, instead of asking for forgiveness, the servant asks for more time. “The debtor thought the way out of his trouble was by working harder.” If only he could extend the term of his loan then he could work off the debt. But there was no amount of time to earn those kind of wages. We do this too. We see our problems and sin and think, ‘I can get this under control if I have more time…’ We are so enthralled by ourselves we have no need of a savior.
“Then, in a stroke of mind-boggling generosity, the master forgave him all, but the debtor remained as he was: convinced of his own innate goodness and ability to deliver himself…” The servant, “continued to believe in his own goodness. He had too high an opinion of himself and too low an opinion of the king. He was unfazed by grace.”
From his forgiveness, the servant goes to a fellow servant and demands payment of a small debt. When we read this we get mad at this ungrateful louse and the ungracious way he lives in response to the forgiveness he has been given. Surely we would never live like that…
This reality can make us feel guilty. But guilt is not the point. “This understanding of your inability to love your neighbor isn’t primarily meant to make you focus on yourself and your unwillingness to forgive; it’s meant to drive you to Jesus.”
“The only way you can begin to love those you hate is to drench – and I mean absolutely drench – your proud, despairing, demanding soul in these words: “Jesus died for sinners.”
“He has great pity for you and has released you and forgiven you of the great debt that you owed him. And although you’ll continue to fail to love your neighbor, he never will. Now, because of the stubborn grace that loves you in your selfishness, you can be at liberty to love others.”
Look to Jesus. Let his grace sink in. Love others.
Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 7.