Pastor’s Viewpoint: 3-11-17
Some of you I know; others I’ve never met and don’t know… but I do know you’re in debt. Every citizen of these United States owes $206,434.00 and interest on that debt of $7,649.00/year. I also know the average family has $10,178.00 in savings. So, Mary Ella and I, if we’re average, owe $428,166.00 and have $10,178.00 in savings. My oldest son, if he’s average with a family of six, owes $1,284,498.00 and has $10,178.00 in savings! (usdebtclock.org)
So Mary Ella and I, before the mortgage and the cars and the boats, and the credit cards, are already in a $417,988.00 hole. Maybe that’s why the Bible has more to say about our finances than about heaven. My dad boiled all his financial wisdom down to “spend less than you make,” but very few people use his method.
“Therefore, 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 was brought to him. 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. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. (Matthew 18:23-35)
Now you and I both realize the man likely didn’t owe “ten thousand bags of gold;” no king ever loaned anyone in his kingdom that much money… or even had that much money? So this is not a story about gold; it’s an exaggerated story about forgiveness and the first lesson is, “We owe God a debt we cannot pay.”
The second lesson isn’t found in this story, but the Bible is clear, “Jesus paid a debt he did not owe.” Now here’s where you might want to think about the consequences of those two lessons… if Jesus forgives my “ten thousand bags of gold;” what will I do with someone who owes me “a hundred silver coins?” Maybe now you’ll realize the story is about more than money; it’s a story about life and about our willingness, having been forgiven, to forgive other people!
Pastor’s viewpoint is written by Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland-Bold Springs UMC and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.