By Clifton Angel
"The LORD thy God is a merciful God" (Deut. 4:31). One of the greatest illustrations of God's mercy is found in Jesus' parable that is often called "The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant" (Matthew 18:23–35). What if we called it "The Parable of the Abundantly Merciful King”?
The main character was the unmerciful servant. He received forgiveness of a tremendous debt. However, he was not willing to be merciful toward a fellow servant who owed him a minuscule amount.
The debt amounts in the parable illustrate the abundant mercy of our God. The servant was owed the small debt of 100 pence, a debt he could have paid in less than one year. But the servant was forgiven the large debt of 10,000 talents. We do not know the exact amount of money that would equate 10,000 talents. But, 1 talent was the average annual salary of the common man in Jesus' day. Therefore, it would have taken him 10,000 years of his entire salary to repay it.
Jesus was illustrating the fact that we cannot repay the debt of sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). No amount of money, work, effort, energy, or time that we offer can repay the debt of sin. Yet, God is ready every day, every hour, every second, to forgive that debt to those who love Him. God desires “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Yes, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Will we accept His gift as did the disciples in Rome? “God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17). How did they obey the teachings they received? “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Furthermore, we often refuse to forgive those small debts of sin against us by our fellow servants. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). When Jesus gave a model format of prayer, He included this necessary request: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). After giving this prayer model, He explained, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).“The LORD thy God is a merciful God” (Deuteronomy 4:31). Will we serve Him, show His mercy to others, and extend mercy ourselves?