Beloved, the devil is a master at currency manipulation. The point Jesus is trying to make here is that the true value of our earthly offenses is never more than a handful of denarii in the eternal scheme of things. To us though it can sure seem like ten thousand talents. That is the plot of Satan when it comes to unforgiveness. The trick is always in getting us to look at someone else instead of ourselves. Peter was looking at his brother who had "sinned against" him. The Pharisee was looking at the tax collector. As long as we are focused on the denarii we feel someone owes us we will never look at the talents we have had forgiven for us at Calvary. As long as we are concentrating on what someone else owes us we will not look at what we ourselves once owed. When the man could not pay back the denarii he asked for mercy and the wicked servant showed him none, and put him in prison. Word got back to the Master however and while the value of our offense may be cheap the cost of our unforgiveness is not cheap at all:
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. - Matthew 18: 31-34 (ESV)
We often pay lip service to these principles instead of embodying them. We are the beneficiaries of amazing grace but we offer so little grace for others. The number one reason given for why people leave church is that they view Christians as hypocrites. Let that resonate for a minute. We preach about this loving and forgiving God and then we have no love or forgiveness for others. Here is the study Bible note for these verses:
"Those who know God's mercy must operate on the principle of mercy. If they do not show mercy but insist on justice, they will not receive mercy, but justice. An unforgiving heart is an unforgiven heart and is subject to torment "until he should pay all". A truly forgiving heart is one result of spiritual rebirth"
This is a great perspective to look at these matters. If we insist on justice then we will be judged accordingly and we will always fall short of the mark. We will always be found lacking. We will always have a debt we cannot pay. But if we operate on the basis of the mercy shown to us we can avoid the cost of unforgiveness. It does not mean that in our flesh we will not still react in offense but rather we will take those thoughts and make them obedient to the Christ who forgave us. The deeper lesson here is that we do not forgive because we feel compelled to. It should be a natural outgrowth of who we are in Christ.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." - Luke 23: 33-34 (ESV)
As they were driving the spikes into His feet and hands, Jesus was forgiving them. That is the same mercy we should operate in. In the natural this is not possible but with God all things are. Please keep in mind that we are talking about true forgiveness, not the brand often offered up by the world. The world says to forgive but not forget. That is not forgiveness at all. While it may be impossible to make ourselves forget, what we really are talking about is the removal of the offense from our hearts. To no longer hold against the person in our heart, what it is they have done. I think that Jesus was acutely aware of this when He finishes this parable:
So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." - Matthew 18: 35 (ESV)
Forgiveness with our words is easy. Matters of the heart however are much harder. God knows our hearts too beloved. I am not suggesting this is easy either. In worldly terms sometimes the offense is great. It can be very painful and real. At the end of the day however, the value is still but a handful of denarii compared to the ten thousand talent forgiveness God has already made to our account. Keep your eyes on what God has done, not what your brother or sister has done. Use the offense to grow closer with God. To rely upon Him even more. Count the cost beloved. Count the cost.
Reverend Anthony Wade - December 13, 2015