Jesus tells this story about a guy who is imprisoned because he owes the king a lot of money. The stakes are high: he could lose everything and end up in slavery if he doesn’t get off the hook. Complete financial and personal ruin is the possible outcome. The good king forgives the man’s debt of thousands and thousands of shekels.
Hours later, on his way home from prison, the guy sees someone to whom he had lent money before his stay in prison [money that the king had forgiven him, I might add]. He shakes him down for the handful of shekels he owed. When he finds out the guy can’t pay up, he has him taken to the authorities to be tortured until he can pay back his huge debt.
Now, imagine being the king in this story; how could he not be outraged?
Because of his short memory, he gets the treatment he apparently deserved all along.
Ok, now comes the bridge to life as we know it.
God really does forgive. It seems to be the case that we need to come out of our embarrassment and actually ask for it. But when we do, God really does forgive. Through Jesus, the sacrifice, the debt we owed has been paid. Now, we get the deep blessing that is ours only because of God’s outlandish generosity.
But that’s kind of abstract, you say.
Ok, sure. Here’s where it connects with real life. That guy who cut you off on the freeway yesterday–yeah, that guy–Jesus offers him forgiveness too. That coworker who took credit for your hard work–Jesus offer him forgiveness too.
When I take a good look at my life, I realize I’ve been that guy before; but I get forgiveness too. And I need to know that. Otherwise, I’ll end up like the guy in the told Jesus told, forgiven yet unforgiving.
What if each of lived as if we owed each other a debt?
What would the world be like if each of us understood how much has been done for us, then looked for ways to make it up to others, since we’ll never pay God back for his generosity anyway?
That’s what coming to grips with God’s grace does.
And this could change the world.
The story can be found in the Christian New Testament in Matthew chapter 18.