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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan.”—Matthew 18:23-27 (HCSB)
Over the next three days we’ll be looking into a well-known parable, The Unforgiving Slave. Today, we’ll dig into the first four verses of the story.
Jesus begins the parable by comparing heaven to a king who was indebted by his slaves. This comparison alone may turn heads because if we insert ourselves into the story, we are the slaves. I want you to take today to think about our relationship to Christ as His slaves.
While the connotations surrounding the word “slave” have differed greatly from era to era, the ancient relationship between slave and master is very much like our relationship with Christ. We must take into consideration the correct way to view a master in this context rather than compare the Master (Christ) to abusive masters throughout history. In biblical times, a slave would abide with their master, they would not worry where their next meal would come from nor where they would sleep, and while they were not paid for their labor, they were regarded as part of the family.
Bible.org writes, “In the Bible, slavery is not commended, but neither is it condemned as a social evil the Christian master should cease to practice or the Christian slave should seek to overthrow. Christian masters are instructed not to abuse their power or their slaves (Colossians 4:1). Christian slaves are encouraged to obtain their freedom, if possible (1 Corinthians 7:17-24), but if not to submit to their masters (Colossians 3:22-25), and they are especially not to abuse their status as Christians in relation to their believing masters (1 Timothy 6:1-2).
Just like the master in Matthew 18:23–27, Jesus settled our accounts with Him. He exemplified the same compassion, released us, and forgave us of our “loan.” He also provides a place to lay our heads, delivers every meal, and is the place we find life-giving community and purpose. To say that we are servants who aren’t fully dependent upon Christ would be a lie. We are His slaves. He not only meets our daily needs but met our existential need on the cross. To consider ourselves anything different would be to take away from the goodness of Christ’s nature and add to our evil nature.
Tomorrow, we’ll learn more about the loan and how the slave responded to the forgiven debt. As for today, let’s take joy in this: To the world, slavery is a sentence, but for those in Christ—for us—it is our freedom.
DIG: Read the Scripture references through this devotional to see more about what Scripture says about slaves.
DISCOVER: In what ways have you written off your identity as a slave to Christ? Are there areas where you need to repent for seeing yourself more highly than you should?
DO: Humble yourself before the One who loves you more than He loved His own life and ask for forgiveness for the ways you have assumed you are your own master.