Let’s ponder and pray the main themes of Jesus’ story about the Unmerciful Servant (Matt. 18:21-35).

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold (a debt that would take a servant 200,000 years to pay) was brought to him… The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go…”

Dear Jesus, the first part of this story is our favorite part, for it highlights the colossal forgiveness we have received from you in the Gospel. All of our sins—past, present, future are forgiven—sins of thought, word and deed. But they weren’t just “waved off.” Our debt was canceled because it was paid in full by you. It will take our hearts being glorified to understand and feel the astonishing reality of the forgiveness we already have.

But here’s the part of the story that befuddles, troubles, and bothers us. “When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins (a debt payable in several months). He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded… The master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant’… Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”

Jesus, we don’t really see ourselves carrying a “200,000-year sin-debt.” And we certainly don’t see ourselves as violent, wicked, and demanding as the unmerciful servant. But you’re the one who told the story, not us. Your diagnosis, accounting, and mercy-math are far more accurate than ours.

Here’s what we do understand. You command, implore, warn, and woo us to, “forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matt. 18:35). To help us better understand, you gave us a broken, beloved sister we will know only in heaven: “Her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love” (Luke 7:47).

Jesus, thank you for forgiving us and loving us. Help us understand our call to forgive others isn’t “letting someone off the hook”; it’s showing you much love. So Very Amen.