Forgiveness Matters: The Tale of the Unmerciful Servant

Unmerciful Servant notes. The servant was delivered to the tormentors till he should pay. How could he pay all he owed? The only way was to forgive the debt of his fellowservant. The only release for the unmerciful servant was to forgive the debt. Then Jesus said, So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.


By Pastor Delbert Young

The Unmerciful Servant

Unmerciful Servant notes

Scriptures: Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:15, Matthew 18:21-22, Matthew 18:23-35

Unmerciful Servant notes

Today’s lesson is about forgiveness. It is to teach us the necessity of forgiving when we suffer personal wrongs which we have the power to forgive. There is always something each of us could hold in our hearts in the realm of refusing to forgive. This would hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I believe it is necessary for the believer to understand this is exactly what they are doing when we refuse to forgive.

In Matthew chapter six, Jesus has taken his disciples upon the mount away from the multitude (Mat 5:1-2). He has begun teaching them. The things Jesus says here is for the disciples, the learners of Christ. He comes to a part of the sermon and gives a model prayer. We call it the “Lord’s Prayer.” Let’s quote the prayer. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name . . . If you will notice, you most likely misquoted verse six, which says . . .

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors . . .

Most of us say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us . . .” It doesn’t say this. It says debts and debtors. The point I am attempting to make is according to the Lord, sin is a debt. When the prayer is recorded in Luke chapter eleven, it reads, And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us . . . (Luk 11:4). This becomes important if we are to properly understand forgiveness.

When the Lord ended the model prayer, he rehearsed one particular part.

 Matthew 6:14 For IF ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

 Matthew 6:15 But IF ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is a little word here needing acknowledgment. The word is IFThe “if” means we choose to forgive or we choose not to forgive. Our choice determines the degree to which the Holy Spirit can minister to us. The ramifications of choosing not to forgive are tremendous. It can hinder my physical healing. It can hinder the blessings in my life, and it can affect my family or my church. Forgiveness is a choice. Before we can be free from the bondage of the thing, we must decide to forgive.

Our prayer today is we open heaven. I have seen people who could not be healed because of refusing to forgive. They were angry and bitter and blocked God from moving in their lives. Paul spoke of this in 1 Corinthians 11:30. People were weak and sick and dying because they had not properly discerned the Lord’s body.

Ophra Winfrey tells of her bitterness toward her uncle when she was a child. The uncle molested her. She had to forgive him because hardly a day passed she did not think of her hatred for the man. There are so many reasons to hold bitterness and refuse to forgive in our hearts. Death, divorce, unfaithfulness, incest, lies, being a victim of a violent crime, etc. all can find their way into our hearts in the form of refusing to forgive. If we are not aware of their power, they will hinder if not stop the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Years back, I had been hurt by a person.

I was praying about it and I was telling the Lord how this person had sinned and purposefully and intentionally injured me. I told him how what had happened had consumed me and I could not stop thinking about it. My peace had gone. The Holy Spirit said, You do not lose your peace with God over another person’s sin. I said, Well, I did. The Holy Spirit repeated, You do not lose your peace with God over another person’s sins. Then I said, “Lord I haven’t done anything wrong here. I was the victim, remember?” What I began to see was I was holding bitterness and refusing to forgive in my heart. I chose then to forgive the situation. The healing process then began.

 Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

 Matthew 18:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Peter took it for granted he was to forgive. The question was how much do I need to forgive? How far do I go with someone before I can collect vengeance? Peter thought seven times should be sufficient. This seems reasonable. If someone was to sin against us seven times, we would see the need to fix the problem. The problem with Peter’s thinking was he was keeping a record of times offended. Often I find believers doing just this. They can go back thirty years or forty years and recall the time when . . .

Jesus answered Peter with a ridiculous number of times to forgive. Jesus said, Until seventy times seven. Four hundred and ninety times, is this what the Lord meant? No. The question was ridiculous, so Jesus gave an equally ridiculous answer. There is no limit to the number of times we are to forgive because there is no limit to the number of times we want and need forgiveness.

(Matthew 18:23-24)

23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto…

We need to place the parable into its proper meaning. It is a parable about the kingdom of heaven. The Lord said therefore IS the kingdom of heaven likened unto . . . The kingdom IS. This is how the kingdom operates today. The Lord is not speaking of something taking place two thousand years later.

ten thousand talents

In the parable, the certain king is the Lord. The servant is the believer. To make it personal, let’s make the servant you and me. The ten thousand talents are the sins we have done. It is a time of reckoning. Our account is looked over and it is found we owe ten thousand talents. The thought is when we sin, we sin against the Lord God. There is a record kept! How much have we sinned?

Have we sinned once, twice, three times? If we are honest, we would say about ten thousand times. The debt is a vast amount of and, for the sake of the parable, the Lord converts the debt of sin into money. The Living Bible writes it as “$10 million!” The Bible says the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Sin carries a tremendous cost. The Lord’s thought is the debt of sin is so tremendous no one can pay the debt.

 Matthew 18:25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

payment to be made

Sin does not only affect the one who sinned. Sin affects everyone in contact with the sinner. In this situation, it was the wife and children and all that he had. As we saw in a message called “Dads Do Make a Difference,” both righteousness and unrighteousness will come upon the children and even generations afterward. Because the kings of Israel sinned, the entire nation was required to pay. The innocent guys in the boat with Jonah were affected by the storm. In this parable, the servant’s entire household would be required to pay.

What we do does affect our families. What we do does affect our church, and what our national leaders do affects our nation. Those in the car with a drunk driver are affected, but also those in the car the drunk driver kills are affected.

 Matthew 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 Matthew 18:27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

fell down, and worshipped

When the servant was confronted with his great debt, he fell down and worshipped the king. When the servant recognized his tremendous debt and humbled himself, something good happened. All the Lord asks of us is to humble ourselves and recognize who him. However, so often people refuse to humble themselves even when confronted with their enormous debt.

moved with compassion

The lord of that servant was moved with compassion and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. It was this simple.

When we recognize our need for the Lord and fall before him, the same thing happens. He always has compassion for us. He will set us free from those things binding us and we are loosed, and he totally forgives the debt.

 Matthew 18:28-30

28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

the same servant

Jesus said the same servant who was forgiven $10 million, went out and found one of his fellowservants which owed him $2,000 (TLV) and became violent with him. He took him by the throat yelling, Pay me that thou owest. He became the unmerciful servant.

Have you ever wanted to become violent when someone offended you? We may have been in church just last Sunday worshiping and singing and praying for people and having communion. Now it’s Monday and we are angry and unforgiving and ready to choke someone. We became the unmerciful servant.

The fellowservant did exactly what the servant did when called before the king. The fellowservant fell down and besought him saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

And he would not

Instead of forgiving as he was forgiven, he cast him into prison. He had the opportunity to forgive as he was forgiven, but would not. He had the ability, but would not. It was not he could not. He would not. He was an unmerciful servant. It’s not we cannot forgive. It’s we will not, would not, forgive. We are the unmerciful servant.

 Matthew 18:31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

his fellowservants saw what was done

I believe many times we do not realize how others observe us not walking in forgiveness. People watch us. They watch us become bitter and mean. They hear our words, and they know we were in church last Sunday, but notice how we act on Monday. And they will talk to the Lord about us too. People will pray concerning us when they see us do wrong. They will tell the Lord you are an unmerciful servant.

 Matthew 18:32-35

32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

O thou wicked servant

The servant, who had not forgiven, was called before his lord. Remember this is the way the kingdom of heaven operates. The lord said, O thou wicked servant. We need to note not forgiving made the servant a wicked person before the Lord. The reason is he forgave thee all that debt, but we did not have compassion on others even as he did pity us. He was an unmerciful servant.

The Lord was wroth. This means he was hot and angry. The servant was delivered to the tormentors till he should pay. The fellowservant was placed into prison, but the wicked servant was delivered to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him. Wow! Is anything tormenting you? Could it be you have been an unmerciful servant?

How could the unmerciful servant pay all that was due? Was there a way for the unmerciful servant to pay the debt? Yes. The only way was to forgive the debt of the fellowservant. The unmerciful servant could not pay the debt. He was in the hands of the tormentors. The only release for the unmerciful servant was to forgive the debt.

Then Jesus said, So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Now this is heavy! The Lord does not tolerate our not forgiving when so much has been forgiven us.

from your hearts forgive

Forgiveness must be from the heart. This means there must not be any malice there. The heart is where God looks. No desire for vengeance must be there.

Pray for the Lord to show us who we need to forgive. Forgive the person. Ask the Lord to now forgive us.

Unmerciful Servant notes

Unmerciful Servant notes

Unmerciful Servant notes

Other Related Sermons:

Parables of Jesus sermon series

Covenant Relationship audio

Book Of Numbers 5:2-31

Debt Forgive Or Not Forgive 3