I “randomly” ran across the following passage of scripture (while looking for a different passage for school) and wanted to share it with y’all. This passage is Ecclesiastes 7:20-22. It says:
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.” (NASB)
I find this passage astonishing in an “aha!” sort of way; not necessarily because it is astonishingly profound, but because it has startling and essential implications for our daily life.
First, none of us are in any way superior to our fellow human beings. Though grace may have more evidently worked to build Godly character and Christ-likeness in certain persons, we have all started from the same basic state of depravity, all have fallen short of the goal, all are equally helpless to save themselves. All are equally in need of the abundant love and grace of our Lord and Savior and all are equally indebted to our Lord for taking our sins upon Him, becoming sin, and dying on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.
Second, if God has shown us grace and we are to reflect and embody the character of God (I John 4:14-19,Philippians 2:5-11, I Peter 1:15-16, I John 2:6) how can we not likewise show grace to others? Grace is shown to us by God precisely because we have great need of it, not because we have no need (Mark 2:17). Why then, if we are to imitate Christ, should we not show grace at the times it is most needed?
Perhaps the best illustration of this point is found in Matthew 18: 21-35 (the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant):21 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
24 "When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
25 "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
26 "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.'
27 "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
28 "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.'
29 "So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.'
30 "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
31 "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.
32 "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?'
34"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
35" My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
We are forgiven of so much by our Father; how can we and why should we not forgive our brethren of very little sins towards us…sins that are almost immeasurable when viewed from an "outside ourselves" perspective? When compared to our own sins already atoned for by Christ on the cross, any sin committed against us will pale.
Lastly, as illustrated in the parable above, the refusal to forgive a fellow debtor could actually be worse than their debt to us. God is offended that we would take His Grace to us and use it for selfish purposes, for it is indeed selfish and foolish to want or think we can on the one hand benefit from God’s grace to us and on the other refuse to extend that same grace to our fellows.
May that never be a description of our lives!
God bless and Veritas Supra Omnis!
In response to Mark's post, Daniel Osborne made the following excellent comments:
"Excellent thoughts. Taking the parable one step further, we can't offer even a comparable amount of grace to others as He offers to each of us. I was talking with a friend about Ephesians 4 the other day... verses 1-7 and 30-31 really stood out to me.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.... Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Forgiveness and grace are a reflection of His character... and just like the parable says... it makes no sense to respond in an unforgiving way when we have been forgiven so much!
Thanks for sharing!"
Friday, August 6, 2010
The Unmerciful Servant
These thoughts, originally posted here by a fellow Rebelutionary, not only give insight into God's word, but also into a pattern that we ought to have in our daily lives. May we never hear the word of God and walk away unchanged! James 1:22-25