Opening Prayer

Almighty God, in whose love and care I begin and end my journey through this day, I bless your name.

Read MATTHEW 18:21-35

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[b] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[c] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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  1. Matthew 18:22 Or seventy times seven
  2. Matthew 18:24 Greek ten thousand talents; a talent was worth about 20 years of a day laborer’s wages.
  3. Matthew 18:28 Greek a hundred denarii; a denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see 20:2).

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Am I willing to forgive after the 77th time?! Search my heart, O Lord.

Think Further

Resentment and lack of forgiveness carry sad spiritual consequences. Our relationship with God becomes dry and unreal. ‘Is there someone you will not forgive?’ is a pertinent question to ask if we feel our walk with God has become pedestrian. Peter would have been shocked at Jesus’ reply to his question; he would have considered seven times extremely generous! Yet Jesus is continuing his theme of the cost of discipleship which he has underlined earlier in this chapter (see vs 8,9). Unlimited forgiveness is to be offered to any brother or sister who has offended you.

Relationships in the church are of crucial importance, Jesus is saying, and if these are not right, the church will not flourish. The parable shows the king extending amazing mercy to the man’s incalculable debt. Astonishing grace – and see how God acts toward those who could never repay what they owe. That is what God has done with the sins of any disciple, which are like huge debts that grow every day: God says ‘I release you from that debt’. The man in the parable, however, exacted the last penny from the fellow servant who owed him a trifling amount.

Again, we see Matthew showing how Jesus opposes cheap grace; we cannot claim to be forgiven and then show by the way we behave that our hearts have not been changed. The Lord’s Prayer has already taught us this principle.1 Here it is again, in full color! The message of these verses may be summed up thus: ‘God eternally and unconditionally forgives those who repent of so immense a debt against him that it is unconscionable for believers to refuse to grant forgiveness to each other for sins that remain trivial in comparison.’2 Like all God’s gifts, forgiveness brings responsibility – it must be passed on.


If we are to open our hands to receive God’s gracious forgiveness, we must not keep our fists clenched against others. Lord, please impress this upon our hearts.

Closing prayer

I need this reminder, Lord. You have forgiven me so much. Enable me to always work toward forgiveness in all my relationships.

Matt 6:14,15 Craig L Blomberg, Matthew, Broadman Press, 1992, p282

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Last Updated on November 29, 2022 by kingstar

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