Another Side of Sunday: Mercy

Mercy: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power (Merriam-Webster).

Peter asked Jesus,  “How many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” (Matthew 18:21). And Jesus answered with a story. A parable used to reveal spiritual matters in human circumstances.

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants (Matthew 18:23).

This is not some random earthly kingdom we’re talking about. This is the Kingdom of Heaven. Where Jesus reigns supreme and calls us to settle our accounts with 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 (Matthew 18:25).

He calls us, His servants, to repay our debt. But there’s no way we can. The balance is too large. Even if we spend the rest of our lives and our children’s lives repaying, it will never be enough.

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and   I will pay back everything” (Matthew 18:26).

There comes a time in a Believer’s life when the recognition of their debt brings them to their knees. Every single servant, every Believer can only rely on one thing… mercy. Mercy is the very heart of the Good News. What we cannot do for ourselves Jesus did on the cross. Every day we open our eyes, every step we take, every heartbeat is only because of His mercy.

Do you think Peter’s heart was stirred?

Is yours? Because the story doesn’t stop there. It is only the beginning.

Remember Peter’s question? How many times do I have to forgive those who sin against me?

Jesus goes on to describe the same servant. The one we see on his knees begging. Only now, he’s the one with the power.  He lords it over another and demands him to repay a debt much smaller than his own. He shows no mercy.

It’s easy to judge the servant isn’t it. I mean, what was he thinking? He walks away free from debt yet wants another to repay him. Who does that?

I hate to say it. It’s a tough thing to swallow, but the answer is clear.

We. Do.

We hold others accountable, refuse to forgive, carry a bitter grudge all the while entering God’s presence through the mercy of our Savior. The consequence for this behavior is hard.

In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed (Matthew 18:34).

OUCH! Double ouch! Peter might have gotten more than he bargained for with his question. I doubt he expected what Jesus revealed. Because if I’m honest, I’m a lot like Peter. Surely I don’t have to just keep on forgiving over and over and over. What good will it do to allow someone to continue to sin against me? Shouldn’t they at some point be accountable, pay for how they treat me?

I asked myself this question. Now, I ask you.

Does God keep on forgiving you over and over and over? Does He recognize your sin and continue to offer mercy? Should you be accountable? Pay for what you’ve done?

I’m not sure about you, but I’m so thankful God is not like me.

Jesus, I’ve been like this servant so many times. Exacting some kind of payment from others. Trying hard to get what I think others owe me. I’m sorry. Because no matter how much someone else owes me, it doesn’t compare to the debt I owe you. Right now, I lay all my unforgiveness, my bitterness, the grudge I’ve been holding and lay them at your feet. Bless those who have wronged me, treated me unfairly. Pour out Your Spirit in their lives and shower them with Your mercy. Thank you for all you’ve done. For Your patience, grace, mercy and love. Amen.

[Feature Image Photo on website by James L.W on Unsplash]

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