The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35)
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he 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.”
In the months after my full surrender to the Lord, I began to pray for my husband. He sat in the pew next to me and I could feel that God was working on him as he began asking questions. I could see that his heart was softening to the whispers of the Lord. Three months later, he surrendered and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I was still knee-deep in confession, but I was on top of the world. God had answered my prayers and I was witnessing monumental change; a shift in our family. We prayed together, worshiped together, and served together. And it was good.
I was beyond thirsty; I was hungry for God’s Word, and I was growing. I had moved past the milk and was on to the meat.
Still, I felt that God was pressing on me to hang back for a bit when it came to serving and even from developing friendships. (I would understand why later.) It seems that maturity and growth were what He wanted to produce in me but … There was something else. He was about to call the crops in to harvest.
When I think of “weeding”, I think of plucking out the bad stuff- maybe disturbing the dirt- giving the good crops some more room and nutrients to grow. When I think of “reaping”, I visualize a sickle which hacks everything to the ground and collects the bounty from all of seeds which were sown- even the bad seeds. A reaping was getting ready to occur in a way that I never could have imagined. I firmly believe that God wanted me to fully understand, comprehend and feel the gravity and magnitude of my wandering and how that made Him feel. But, more importantly, He wanted me to fully grasp the weight and value of His gift of forgiveness.
Everything became clear one Thursday night. My husband sat next to me on the couch and said that God had been pressing on him to confess adultery during the course of our marriage.
The sickle had begun to swing.
I was leveled. Literally laid out on the floor.
My heart was crushed.
Every emotion in the spectrum followed … Anger, hurt, sadness, utter despair, more anger and urges of wrath. Then the Lord spoke. He reminded me of my wandering and how He forgave me just a few months earlier. God was my first love and for years I ran around on Him with other “gods”. The sins I had confessed were disgusting in the eyes of God and man. And just like Hosea, He paid the price to buy me back from my sinful choices. He sought me even then.
When the Word collides with the world, faith is really tested and tried. Would I FALL again? Or would I stand?
How could I commit adultery against my God, beg for forgiveness and accept His gift of mercy and grace – and then deny the same forgiveness, mercy and grace to my husband?
I could not.
The years that followed were difficult, but God lead us both every step of the way. Confession and repentance for years of personal sin, the destruction of my faulty foundation and rebuilding our marriage under God has made my faith and personal relationship with the Lord stronger and more intimate than ever. A bi-product of that restored relationship with God is a restored marriage. Recently, God prompted me to go ahead and jump in deeper, serve more, and develop relationships. Did God really want me to be friendless for that time? No, but He wanted me to shed the bad influences, minimize distraction, and keep me focused on HIM for all of my needs and counsel. Praise the Lord!
Do you see? God placed each moment in His perfect order, so His plan for me, for my husband, and for my children would all be fulfilled just the way HE planned.
Refined by fire.
I am forgiven and following, no, make that chasing the Lord in a way I never would have imagined all those years ago.
Yes, even this worked for my good but, especially for His Glory!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I wish I could tell this story while looking into the eyes of the person reading it. I wish I could share with that person that, while God would prefer that we not wander and break His heart, He still uses our broken pieces to create a mosaic of unimaginable beauty. But, we can’t hang on to any of the pieces; we have to give them ALL to Him.
Try to remember my testimony when you are finding it hard to forgive a friend, family member or spouse. Though our mistresses may have different forms, some with flesh and some without, most of us have committed adultery against the Lord during the course of our lives and God is faithful and forgiving. Try to remember before you choose to slide down a darkened path, that the hooks that enter your flesh will pierce to the bone and tear the flesh when you try to leave.
Try to remember that there is no pit too deep that God cannot find you.
Parents, teachers, deacons and pastors, don’t rest easy when a child is saved…it is not the end, it’s only the beginning. Try to remember that if you have trained your son or daughter in the way they should go, they will not turn from it. If they get lost for a time, pray! Pray hard and long and don’t give up on that prodigal. God never gave up on you.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Try to remember that God SO loved you…and the guy next to you…and the girl down the hall…and the kid in detention…and the man in jail…and the mom who loses her temper…and the woman who committed adultery…and homeless man in the Walmart parking lot…that He gave His SON, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.
He will never leave you or forsake you. I am thankful- so thankful– for forgiveness and a restored relationship with God that I have received in Jesus Christ. I am currently chasing the Lord and seeking my purpose as I seek His face. Following His lead.
Matthew 18. That’s my story.
This picture is a picture of me, the Mosaic Masterpiece. I am a daughter of the King. I am the mother of Cheerio-chompers. And, I am the wife of a loving and loyal Christian man and our marriage is built on THE Rock. We are bound together by a third strand and our cord will not be quickly broken (Eccl 4:12). While my walk with Christ began at a young age, surrender came much later. Broken, I have placed all of the pieces of my life into the hands of God.