Want to be debt free? This has been an unreachable dream for most of us, particularly in the modern
property market where homes prices are sky high and income has in the same period failed miserably to keep up.
We, therefore, settle for the best deal we can get from the bank. They will typically ask us three questions: 1) How much do you owe? 2) How much do you earn? 3) How old are you? Given the average mortgage repayment period, chances are you’ll be lucky to pay off the debt before you die!
But what about being debt-free with God? What sort of deal does He offer?
Jesus described a man who owed his boss 15,000 talents. One talent was worth 10,000 years of wages for the average worker which by my maths is about 7 quadrillion dollars. Or, 7 followed by 12 zeros. Not surprisingly the man could not even begin to pay such a staggering bill. This meant one thing – he was about to become bankrupt. At least that was until his boss offered to forgive him his entire debt! The boss gave just one small requirement. The man was to forgive others their debts as he had been forgiven his own debt by his gracious boss. Surely this was no obstacle to the man? Wouldn’t the feeling of debt-free relief he now enjoyed help him show the same generosity towards others?
The man had a fellow worker who owed him 100 denarii, a denarius being an average day’s wage, or the equivalent of, say, NZD$10,000 in three months. Here was a chance to reflect the same generous spirit towards a debtor who owed a fraction of what the man himself had once owned. Yet here is the tragic irony of the story: the man refused to forgive his mate his debt and, consequently, this would mean that his boss’ offer to forgive him would now be unavailable. What a mistake of monumental proportions!
In the same way, when God offers us the total forgiveness we may struggle inwardly with hypocrisy and refuse to accept His grace because we want to hold on to our resentment against our spouse, our child, our parent, our neighbour, or our boss. This unforgiveness then eats away at us for years. The point of Jesus’ parable is that there is a colossal difference between the debt we owe God (which He offers to clear) and, on the other hand, the pathetic resentment and inflexibility we feel towards those who have harmed us.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget that forgiveness towards someone else does not mean I approve of the wrong he or she did. It simply means it is no longer my problem. God has been working on the other person’s case and will continue to do so until either they accept His offer of forgiveness through the death of Christ on the cross, or sadly the ultimate day of judgement arrives. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit’s selfless demonstration of love through me might just persuade those affected to change their plea before God to ‘guilty’.
Author: Tony Hanne
Photo credit: Travis Silva