After a hectic day at work, I go outside to take my dog for a walk. Ambling around the neighborhood in our usual circle, an irritated voice pulls me out of my thoughts. Although the voice is not very loud at first, I have a sense that it’s meant for me. I locate the source—a lady yelling down at me from the third story of our neighboring condo building.
I slowly realize what is going on. She is reprimanding me and telling me to pick up after my dog if I’m going to walk on “their lawn”. Surprised and speechless, I simply hold up the bag full of doggie-poo that I had scooped up just moments before. She barely yells “thanks” before slamming the window and closing the drapes.
I immediately start to feel violated. I was too shocked to even defend myself. My mind races with all of the things I want to run and tell this lady. From “of course I clean up after my dog” to “I always follow the rules at our condo” to “how dare you yell from your window and accuse an innocent person of something like that?” I get all worked up in about 45 seconds flat.
It’s just a silly little neighborhood misunderstanding. But in my mind, I have the right to walk my dog without being falsely accused. I start condemning her attitude and her actions.
In instances such as this, I still act like the unmerciful servant that Jesus introduces in Matthew 18. You know the guy. He owes the king a crazy amount of money, an amount that he could not work off in a lifetime. He falls on his knees and begs the king for more time, for an opportunity to pay back what he owes. The king takes pity on him and cancels his debt entirely. The king shows mercy even though the servant doesn’t deserve it. And then the servant struts out of the palace and grabs the first guy he sees—one who owes him a small amount of money. This debtor also begs for mercy yet the servant has him thrown into prison.
I read this story and initially think the servant is such an idiot. The guy’s debt was just cancelled by a merciful king and he immediately turns around and sends a fellow servant to jail for a tiny amount of money. How could he be so hard-hearted? And then I realize the truth. I am that idiot.
I am the one who has been forgiven much, but I still turn around and condemn others. I think that I have a right to be treated fairly. I don’t deserve to be falsely accused. But . . .
Jesus wasn’t treated fairly.
He was falsely accused.
He willingly sacrificed his life to pay my debt.
And he whispers in my ear, “Show her grace because I have shown you grace”.