Massive Debt

Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™  I AM Ministries

“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”

Normal I AM

Monday, January 23, 2017

Massive Debt

In recent years, the national debt has grown to unthinkable levels. The United States is not alone – many governments, businesses, and individuals worldwide have accrued massive debts, borrowing extraordinary amounts of money that must eventually be repaid. Two thousand years ago, our LORD Jesus informed us that no matter how much money we or our government owes, our sin debt to God is still our greatest liability. Because God has forgiven us our debts (Matthew 6:9-13), we must act accordingly in our daily lives.

In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18), the king decides to reconcile his accounts with his servants. One man was brought before him who owed ten thousand talents (a fortune), yet the king agreed to cancel out the servant’s debt when the servant begged for mercy. Just following his good fortune, this same servant accosted a fellow servant who owed him a hundred denarii, a very small amount. Instead of returning the favor done to him, the unmerciful servant refused to show mercy to others in the same way as mercy was shown to him. When the king learned of his actions, the king ordered him to be tortured and punished.

It’s not obvious in this day and age how large a debt the unmerciful servant owed. Ten thousand talents was an enormous amount of money back then, much more than anyone could repay the king. This man had apparently been doing some world-class embezzling or borrowing in order to amass such a debt. He must have been working steadily, day by day and with sincere effort, in order to run up such a tab. It was not the kind of debt one accrues overnight.

To put the debt in perspective, historical documents reveal the total annual revenue collected by the Roman government was about 900 talents. This was the amount of money collected from Judea, Samaria, Idumea, and Galilee. What we see is the ten thousand talents owed the king represented about 11 years of taxation from four provinces. Imagine how the IRS would react if you had absconded with 11 years’ worth of tax revenue from four major U.S. states!

In the economy of that time, a talent was worth 6,000 denarii. Given that the average laborer was paid about six denarii a week, it would take him 1,000 weeks or about 20 years to earn even one talent. A debt of 10,000 talents was a staggering amount for a man in his position and would require over a million years to pay off the king if the servant gave him everything he earned. The point Jesus made is that the debt was impossible to pay off; still, the merciful king simply cancelled the debt.

The ungrateful servant then turned around and refused to cancel the debt of his fellow servant, a man who owed him only a small sum. Legally, the ungrateful servant was on solid ground to demand payment, but morally he had no leg to stand on due to the massive debt that had just been forgiven him. This obstinance reflected the condition of his heart and the depths of his ungratefulness.

Jesus is telling us that God has cancelled the enormous debt of our sin against Him. Each of us has a debt against Him so incomprehensibly large that none of us could possibly repay it, even if we could use good deeds as payment. In a similar manner, we could never live long enough to pay off the Earthly rewards God has given us.

It is normal for God to forgive our massive debt to Him. This parable emphasizes how you are called to be normal, just as the king was, and to forgive others freely as we have been freely forgiven. God, through Jesus Christ, has cancelled a debt you could never possibly repay. No debt owed to you will ever compare to the enormous debt you owe God. Yet those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior are forgiven freely of all sins.

If you are a forgiven child of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you never have a right not to forgive others. The Bible tells us repeatedly that the burden of forgiveness always falls on us. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the LORD forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13). Be normal and show some forgiveness today.

Jeff Myers
A servant of Jesus Christ

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