November 7, 2015
When the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him [a hundred silver coins]. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment (v.28).
READ: Matthew 18:21-35
When I read the account of the unmerciful servant, it’s easy for me to condemn the first servant’s actions (Matthew 18:28). But his actions aren’t as impossible for me to imitate as I would like to believe. For instance, when we experience road rage (that particular anger that comes sweeping over us while we’re driving), we can act in ways that are remarkably similar to the first servant. We can do things that make little sense. People look at us and shake their heads in disbelief and embarrassment, thinking, What’s wrong with that guy? We might think similar things when we consider the first servant.
It’s evident that part of the reason the servant acted so harshly is that he was ticked off. Although anger is never specifically mentioned, it’s clear from his actions that he was enraged, for he “grabbed [the second servant] by the throat and demanded instant payment” of his debts (v.28). But when the servant wasn’t able to pay his meagre debt, the first servant had him thrown into jail (v.30). The first servant was angry and wouldn’t forgive the other’s small debt, even after his large debt had been forgiven by the king (v.27). His anger had blinded him to the truth.
Now, there’s a time for righteous anger, as we see when Jesus cleared the temple in John 2:13-16, but anger can also blind us and cause us to lose perspective. And getting angry is especially dangerous because it can make forgiveness nearly impossible. For that reason alone, we should avoid it. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13).
365-day-plan: Acts 20:1-12
Read 1 Samuel 18:6-17 for another example of a man who was undone by his anger and rage.
Have you ever been so angry that you acted irrationally? What sparked that anger? Why does anger make it hard for us to forgive?