Mercy • Devotion #3: Forgiveness

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7

One of my favorite parables throughout the four Gospels is the parable of the unforgiving servant. In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus is teaching and He shares this story about a master, his servant, and then the servant’s friend. Many of you may be familiar with this parable, it begins in verse 23, “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.” As the story continues, we know that the servant was forgiven his massive debt from his master, so that he did not end up losing his house, his family, and at that point all that truly mattered in the world. Yet, after receiving forgiveness, he goes on to reach out to a fellow servant and demands that the small debt they have be settled.

The story ends as the master receives word of what the servant he just forgave has gone out and done, causing the master to seize him and throw him in jail until the original debt is paid off. In verse 23, Jesus says the word “therefore.” Whenever we see this word, it is important to look at the previous verse, because this word tells us that we are about to learn about the consequences of the previous statement. In this case, Jesus is referring to Peter’s question about forgiveness; to which Jesus says that forgiveness must never cease. Why is this the case? Why are we called to forgive and be merciful, even when we have forgiven time and time again? It is because we have been forgiven.

Jesus came and paid our debt on the cross. It is through His sacrifice that we have the privilege to walk around justified through His blood and able to live a free life in Him. Our sin gave us a debt that we could never repay on our own, a debt that would only be filled through death and eternal separation from the Master (God). Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Just as the servant who was forgiven his debts from his master, we too have been forgiven our debt from our Heavenly Father. However, we are called to share the same forgiveness and mercy to our brothers and sisters in this world, so that, through our actions, the world might too see our mercy and forgiveness. Which will then give us an opportunity to share with them the forgiveness of the Master and a chance for them to live life debt-free from sin, just as we are.

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