Spiritual Practice

The Unforgiving Servant

Katy Steele & Douglas Gamble

Forgiveness isn’t easy! My issue isn’t with offering or even accepting an apology; I struggle with holding grudges. When I’m hurt, the pain and anger burn inside me, festering until I try to prove that I’m right and the other person is wrong. I struggle with doing what Jesus asks us to do: “Forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Matthew 18:35b, NRSV).

Are you like the unforgiving servant? Find out in Matthew 18:23–35.

Jesus tells a story that paints a clear picture of forgiveness. A servant owes the king an unimaginable fortune. Unable to pay the debt, he begs the king to have patience, to give him time. Mercifully, the king completely cancels the man’s debt and sends him home. On the way, the servant comes across a man who owes him a few bucks. What does the servant do? He grabs the man, screams at him, and throws him into jail.

How often do we do the same? God forgives me for all my unimaginable sins; but when people insult me, I hold it against them for weeks—or years.

God doesn’t want us to get even. God wants us to forgive as God forgives.

—Katy Steele, 20


HOW CAN I FORGIVE? Read that outrageous parable again. A guy owes the king a gazillion dollars. He begs for more time, although he couldn’t repay the king in a hundred years. The king shows mercy. Wow! The point: Forgiving others is possible when we realize how much we have been forgiven—a gazillion times a gazillion!

—Douglas Gamble

—from devozine (July/August 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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