Tortured Or Set Free? - The One Year Book of Hope

Tortured Or Set Free?

The king called in the man he had forgiven and said, “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Matthew 18:32-33

I looked it up: bazillion is not really a number. But it is the best way to describe the debt the man owed the king in Jesus’ parable of the debtor from Matthew 18. His debt was not just large, it was an incomprehensible amount of money, impossible for him to repay. But there are two debtors in this story, and the difference is in the amount they owe. The debt owed to the servant by another man was about three months’ wages, not a negligible amount, but a pittance in comparison to the debt the servant had been forgiven.

In reality, however, this parable is not so much about the two debtors but about the character of the king. The generous forgiveness of the king illustrates the abundance of God’s forgiveness, which sets prisoners free from an apparently hopeless situation, an unpayable debt. Have you truly understood how much God has forgiven you, that your debt was unpayable? Or is that an inconvenient subject that disrupts your self-assured anger?

What will it take for you to be willing to forgive what you see as an enormous wrong against you? You will have to see how big your wrong has been toward God, how much he’s forgiven you. Forgiveness does not deem the offense against you as small or meaningless. But the debt becomes such when put into the perspective of your own offenses and debt to God. Until you see the enormity of your sin and the generosity of God’s forgiveness, you’ll forever feel justified in refusing to forgive someone else.

In this parable, the man who refused to forgive was handed over to torturers. Choosing not to forgive is like choosing to be tortured. It is relentless pain that serves no purpose. Aren’t you tired of feeling tortured? Isn’t it time you turned your focus from the wrongs done to you to the wrongs you’ve done toward others and, more important, toward God? Ask him to show you the magnitude of your forgiven sin, and be willing to take a long look. Allow God to change your perspective and change your heart. Allow him to empower you to forgive and set you free from the torturous prison of unforgiveness.

Generous Father, please help me to show my gratitude and recognition for the forgiveness you’ve extended to me by extending it to others.


What does Matthew 18:21-35 reveal to you about the heart of God and the choices of the debtor?

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