By GREG SPOFFORD
In one of Jesus’ parables, we are told of a man who was brought before the king. He owed the king a large sum of money. The king discovered the man was not able to repay the debt, so, in compassion for him and his family, the king forgave the debt completely. That same man ran across another who owed him a small amount of money. The man was not compassionate like the king and had his brother sent to jail. What are we to make of these two approaches to life – other centeredness or self-centeredness?
Today’s “kings” are the leaders of countries. Can we boldly say these countries include the leaders of Germany, England, Russia, China, North Korea and the United States? Examples of leaders in Morrison County include city councils and staff, school boards, commissioners, etc. Let’s also add parents, teachers, students and elders of the community as leaders.
Essentially, we are all called by God to be leaders and mentors. We, then, who proclaim that we are the Lord God’s, need to be as forgiving and compassionate as the king was at first.
Yes, this Bible passage from the book of Matthew does go on to say that when the king discovered that the man whose large debt had been forgiven did not forgive a brother of a lesser debt, he grew angry and changed his mind. The king threw the man in jail.
Many have thought the king represents God changing his intention from loving forgiveness to cold-hearted revenge. I suggest that thinking is incorrect theology – inconsistent with an ever-loving God who tells us to forgive always, love always.
What if we compare the king who changed his mind to world leaders — whether of North Korea, Russia, the United States or any other country? Are the standards that Jesus called for in telling us to forgive “seventy times seven” — meaning “always” — being applied at all? Do our national, state and local leaders give evidence of other-centeredness or self-centeredness? Are we who bear the name of Christ, loving our God by loving, forgiving and serving all of our neighbors as ourselves?
Good questions to ponder. The Lord is with us always, may we with the Lord.