“Pretty please can I go …….?” When I was a child I can recall many occasions when I had something I really wanted to do and due to poor grades, bad behavior , or the like I found myself at the mercy of my Mom and Dad. I would give them countless reasons why they should let me do the activity. Now as a parent myself I have a better understanding of their perspective. My favorite example was when my teenage son had three months to prepare his science project and three days before it was due he brought it to our attention that he had not started it. Shortly after the parental eruption of logic, and correction the project was formulated and addressed. That same evening shortly after the cataclysmic event my teenage son came to his mom and me and asked if he could go to this extracurricular activity for his drama group. My, first thought was “heck no!”, but after some thought we allowed him to participate in the activity. Even though he didn’t deserve to benefit from the activity we showed him mercy.
In the journey of life we can all think of countless examples of mercy and forgiveness. We can think of times when we dealt with a family member, neighbors, coworkers, or a complete stranger. On occasion frustration may have even filled our hearts when we think of the countless times we have been merciful and forgiving to no avail due to the recipients’ bad habits or hard heart.
In the parable of the unmerciful servant we find Jesus teaching the disciples and other listeners. Peter asks him how many times someone should forgive someone who wrongs them, the current teaching was 3 times but Peter in his question asks Jesus 7 times. Jesus stumps Peter with his answer when he says 7 times 70. Jesus point was that we as Christ Followers should be in general merciful and forgiving. He then tells this story of a servant that owed an enormous debt; the servant pleads to his master for mercy and receives it. His debt is cancelled and he is sent away a free man. The listener would find it hard to believe that a king or master would pardon such a great debt. This was not a common practice during those times, just as they are not a common practice today. The servant and his family left pardoned but as the servant goes on his way he finds a fellow servant who owed him about a day’s wages. The servant executes his rights and has the servant arrested and tortured until he received what was owed to him. When the master heard of what had happened he was infuriated and had the servant arrested and tortured. The first servant could have given time to pay it back but he refused to show mercy and pursued the full punishment under the law. The master was upset that the first servant received mercy, yet he was unwilling to extend mercy to others.
Understanding that there are situations that may seem unforgivable where mercy will take time and be hard to give. Jesus point is simple yet profound, God’s forgiveness of us should shape the way we forgive others. When we receive mercy we should also be willing to give it away. As the listeners in Jesus day heard this profound teaching and reflected upon their lives. It is my prayer that we too would reflect upon this lesson and apply it to our lives, with the result being a community where mercy and forgiveness are in abundance.
What was the worst thing that your brother or sister ever did to you when you were growing up? (Here are some of the group’s answers) My sister dropped me when I was a baby, My brothers locked me in the car, My brother put in the dryer; My sisters they dressed me as a girl.