The Real Enemy
The reality of the unmerciful servant ( Matthew 18:21-25 ESV) is all too real. It’s easy to understand because we all feel the pull of temptation, even as Christians. We receive the sting of a perceived wrong and it begins to cut deep. It escalates from the offense of someone else until it takes over our whole countenance. No matter any other good that is happening for us, the wrong from our offender overshadows that and brings a cloud of darkness. Misery becomes routine.
The distortion that results if we allow unforgiveness to take root as bitterness is undeniable. It’s consuming, leaving the “offended” in more misery than the original offense. Our inner beauty is replaced with anger, a hardness that eventually distorts our demeanor. Bitterness isn’t just an inward emotion, it becomes an outward reflection. (A scowl can speak volumes.)Bitterness isn't just an inward emotion, it becomes an outward reflection. Click To Tweet
We soon find ourselves imprisoned in misery. Yet, if we are honest, although we may feel led there by the hands of another, we are the ones who shut the door and lock it. It is our choice to allow unforgiveness to rob us of so much.
We become our own worst enemy, not the original offender!
Case in point for the unmerciful servant……
The 3 Lessons
We bring about our own misery when we-
- IGNORE what God has done for us.
- FOCUS on what others should do for us.
- DISREGARD what God requires of us.
I get it. I really do.
It is much more satisfying to focus on someone else and THEIR WRONGS as opposed to MY WRONGS. It is a fact of human nature. But you know what else is human nature? Sin. Not just his sin or her sin, but MY sin too.
When I become bothered by the sin of someone else more than I am broken over my own sin, I am headed for trouble. Just like the unmerciful servant, 3 realities await if I do not recognize the temptation for what it is.
The Harsh Reality
“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.” Matthew 18:32-35 NIV
These words are given by Jesus Christ to His followers. They are for us as well. What happened to the unmerciful servant will happen to us if we persist in the same hypocrisy. His reality will become ours.
3 realities await unless we choose differently-
- Prison – It will be a prison of our own making. We will live in bondage to the choices of others and how that offends us. Although we may walk about freely doing as we please but in reality, we are just as confined in misery as the unmerciful servant. We will have forfeited our freedom just as he did. Captivity is no way to live and not God’s plan for us. That’s why Jesus came, to bring us back into relationship with the Holy Father and to give His life as a ransom for our own, setting us free from sin and death. When we willingly disregard what God requires of us ( ie. forgiving and loving others), we are purposely choosing to live in misery.
- Debt – The unmerciful servant’s choice to withhold mercy for his fellow servant brought about a disastrous consequence. His own forgiven debt was reinstated! The original debt that was virtually impossible to repay was void no longer. Because he denied mercy, he ended up losing his own! The master now required of him what he owed, all because he refused to oblige his fellow servant of what little he owed. In the end, what was the easier task? Do we really want to be credited with what we owe a Holy God? Would we rather forfeit our own mercy for the sake of someone else’s piddling offense against us?! Is spite worth losing my own much-needed mercy?
- Compromised Future – I don’t know about you but who wants a future anything LESS than the good, benevolent future God has planned for us IF WE FOLLOW HIS WAYS?! I want all the good He is willing to offer!! Losing out on that isn’t worth the pettiness of unforgiveness. By refusing to forgive others, I am in essence sabotaging my own future! Ummm, no thanks. NO GRUDGE is worth giving up the grace and mercy God offers me!
The Clear Choice
Life is a precious opportunity from the Lord. Why would we want to waste one minute of it on the pettiness this world offers in exchange? Let us enjoy the mercy He abundantly offers and extend it on to others!
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7 NIV