He Cancelled the Debt

April 16, 2020

 Matthew 18:26–27

26 The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

The unforgiving servant should have learned something from the king. It says the servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go. Let’s look at those three things (not quite in that order).

The first thing is he canceled the debt. The first step, the first aspect of a forgiving spirit, is you do not take revenge and you do not make the other person pay the emotional debt of pain, but you pay it down yourself. See, the king canceled the debt.

This is not teaching that if somebody has wronged you legally, you should not take legal action. This does not mean you let everything go. That’s not what we’re talking about. Here’s what I think we’re talking about. The idea is, when someone wrongs you, it creates an emotional debt of pain. It’s a debt, a debt you feel. It’s a sense of obligation that this person owes you and you feel it.

No matter what your theology or what your philosophy, no matter what your worldview, you can’t help it. Someone has wronged you, and there’s a debt. It’s a debt essentially of emotional pain, and it has to be paid down. It doesn’t just go away. You say, “What do you mean by paid down?” Well, what most people do is they make the other person pay.

There are all sorts of ways of making the other person pay. You can insult them. You can be cold to them. You can be harsh to them. You can withdraw your friendship from them. You can try to hurt them professionally. There are all sorts of direct ways. There are more indirect ways, like gossiping about them. You slander them. You ruin their reputation with other people.

Here’s the deal. You want to hurt them. Why? Because (and let’s be completely honest) when I inflict pain on somebody who hurts me, it makes me feel better. I’m paying down the debt.

The more I see them squirm, the more I see them twist, the more I see them hurt, the more I see … I have to get my pain debt down by seeing them pay. It works. I mean, it works in the sense of slowly you feel less and less that person owes you. Slowly you feel less and less of that pain debt. You do feel better when you see them hurting and screaming and crying and upset and losing their job and so on.

You feel better after a while, but it passes into you. The heat has come on, and it has passed into you. It has swept you along. It has melted you into its likeness. If you make the other person pay the debt, you are changing. It is controlling you. In fact you end up being controlled by the other person and the debt never goes away. At some point there is no amount of pain or hurt or loss that the other person can endure that will actually make the debt disappear. Even the death of that person will not pay the debt… you will carry it with you forever. But there is a better way.

The king was wise, the king was forgiving, and the king cancelled the debt.



Where’s the Patience?

April 15,2020

Matthew 18:28–31

28 But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

One of the things we notice in this parable is that both servants cannot pay their debt. Both servants ask for patience and both promise to repay. But only the king showed patience and forgave the servant. The servant who was shown patience refused to show patience and refused to forgive the debt owed to him. No patience, no forgiveness.

What does this word patient mean? It’s translated from a Greek word. It’s a compound word. It’s the word makrothymeo. Unfortunately, the word patience in English is not compound. I don’t think, therefore, it really gets across as well as the old English word. The old English translation of this word was “long-suffering.” The word literally makro-, which does mean long … Makrothymeo means literally to be long-tempered, long temperate, as opposed to short-tempered.

The word -thymeo has to do with a boiling point. That introduces this metaphor. Mercury, at room temperature, loses its composure. Right? It loses its composure. That’s one way to put it. It’s just running all over the place. With most metals, you have to put more heat on them before they just run all over the place and lose all their composure and lose their shape and so forth.

Therefore, makrothymeo, which is saying long temperate, means spiritual patience is the inner power to bear injuries without meltdown. Spiritual patience, the mark of patience (love is patient), is the inner power to bear injuries without meltdown. In other words, things happen to you, but they do not destroy your inner poise. They don’t destroy your inner joy. They don’t control you.

You are not made and controlled and affected and shaped by what is being done to you. Heat comes on but you do not melt down. Why is this so important? Luke 21:19, in the old King James Bible says, “In your patience possess ye your souls.”

That’s why this is so important. Why is it so important? To be suffering is to be a victim. I mean, you don’t have to do anything to be suffering. Suffering comes to you. Suffering happens to you without a choice, without your own personal choice.

To be suffering takes no choice, but to be long-suffering takes a very deliberate, active, bold choice. To decide to be long-suffering is to say, “I’m going to bear my injuries without meltdown.”

Therefore, what we’re learning about here is a particular kind of patience. What is that patience? There’s a kind of patience that we’re looking at, and that is the inner power to bear injuries from other people, to bear mistreatment and abuse and snubbing of other people without melting down into resentment and anger. That is freedom. Freedom from being controlled by our anger and the freedom to forgive.

Is that kind of patience available to us? Do we have it or are we still being controlled by our emotional responses?




Absorbing the Debt

Matthew 18:23–27

23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.

25 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. 26 The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

The key to understanding this parable is the magnitude of the debt. Jesus says a king had some servants, and he was settling accounts with his servants. Right away, what do you and I think of when you see the word servants? You think immediately of household servants or people around the palace. No, that’s not what we can mean by the word servants. Here’s the key. It says he found one servant who owed him 10,000 talents.

It’s always a little difficult to translate sums. In those days, the ordinary working man (I guess they didn’t have working women), ordinary laborer, made a talent to a talent and a half in a whole year.

Therefore, if you want to get a kind of average person who makes $30,000 a year and multiply it by 10,000 times. Multiply $30,000 by 10,000. It’s $300 million.

This servant, therefore, is not the cook. This is not a bunch of household servants under an emperor, under a king. These are, under an emperor, people who are out there ruling over regions or provinces or whole countries. What this man has done is either through gross mismanagement or corruption, somehow he has squandered an enormous sum.

What this means is Jesus has deliberately put a sum up there that was so big … Don’t forget this is a parable. He made this up. This isn’t any particular historical character. He puts in an amount that, even if this was the emperor of Rome, to lose this kind of amount of money could bring his very kingship into jeopardy, his ability to pay his army and so forth. It could bring his very kingdom into jeopardy. This was serious.

But in spite of the fact that this servant has removed all this money and in spite of the fact this servant has basically put his very kingship into jeopardy, one thing the servant has not taken away is the King’s inner composure, because the servant looks up at him and says, “Be patient.” And the king forgives him.

Now, how much did we owe God before He forgave us? He gave us life, and we disobeyed him over and over again. We sinned against Him and our sin created an enormous debt that we could never repay. But Jesus paid the debt for us, and God is settling accounts with us and is willing to have compassion and is willing to forgive us our trespasses and sin. We must also cry out to Him, and ask for mercy – trusting in the only sacrifice for sin as payment for our debt. But God did not dismiss the debt, He absorbed it… He paid it Himself. Jesus, our king, paid the debt himself and all who believe in Him and cry out to Him for forgiveness – He will take pity on and He will forgive.





Daily Devotions 2020