The Unforgiving Slave

But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’ At this, his fellow slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed.”—Matthew 18:28-30 (HCSB)

Yesterday, we explored The Parable of the Unforgiving Slave and what it means to be a slave of Christ. Today, we’re going to look at human’s natural response to Christ’s forgiveness.

In the verse above, we see a slave who had just been released from his financial burden of owing 10,000 talents. Although his master forgave him his debt, this same man went and demanded payment from a fellow slave who owed him 100 denarii. 

To get a better understanding of the vast difference between these two debts, we’re going to learn a little B.C. finance. One talent equaled 16 years’ worth of wages. So, to owe 10,000 talents? That’s the equivalent 160,000 years’ worth of work. This debt could never be paid by the slave, and he knew it. 

The second slave owed 100 denarii. One denarius equaled approximately one day’s wages. So, 100 denarii equaled 100 day’s wages. Still a hefty debt, but nothing compared to 10,000 talents.

The first slave was finally free! So, why would he respond to this freedom by demanding a comparably insignificant amount? Why wouldn’t he do the same for his fellow slave and simply forgive him of the debt? Why did he think less of his fellow slave than himself, when only moments before he owed 10,000 times more than him? 

Does any of this sound familiar? 

The demanding, pompous, greedy, unsatisfied, unforgiving slave . . . is us. I am drawn to tears thinking of the evil we can conjure up within our hearts and minds while we also have been forgiven a debt we are incapable of paying. In a crowd of unforgiven souls, shouldn’t we be the quickest to forgive? We throw people just like us into our self-righteous mental cages built by our greed and pride expecting to be paid back in full for debts of all kinds. They claw at the rails just as we would, yet we scoff, thinking they deserve suffering. We believe we are better than them, more deserving of forgiveness, and closer to God based on our performance in this life. 

We are so much less forgiving than our Jesus is. Based on this parable alone, it is healthy and very important in the current social and political climate to realize and walk in this: There is so much more room for forgiveness than we can naturally comprehend.

Tomorrow, we will wrap up this parable and see Jesus’ reason for sharing it.

DIG: Read this part of the parable again (Matthew 18:23-30).

DISCOVER: In what ways are you like the unforgiving slave? Who do you need to forgive today?

DO: Ask the Holy Spirit to dig deep into your heart and show you where you’ve chosen to allow unforgiveness, bitterness, and selfishness to take root. Once you have fully allowed Him to access that likely protected place, let Him tell you what to do with the thoughts, emotions, and feelings of unforgiveness. Truth be told, this will feel uncomfortable. You may not like what He says. Prepare yourself for that by deciding you will obey His prompting no matter what the request.

About the Author

Cortney Gurr