Lacks and Crores
A man wins a lottery of Rs. 10 crores. He was so elated and wanted to live a luxurious lifestyle. He buys an imported super-luxurious car for R. 6 crores. He goes for a merry drive, he is stopped at toll booth. He gets angry as the man in the toll asks him to pay Rs. 100. Furious, he gets out of car and hits the toll collector that he is maimed for life. He is later caught by police and jailed.
This is a modern parable adapted from the Parable of Unmerciful servant by Lord Jesus Christ. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “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. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)
Table of conversion
A quick google search reveals that a talent (a bag of gold) is equal to about 5000 to 6000 denarii (silver coins). One denarii was a day wage for a labourer at that time. The first servant was forgiven by the king for not paying 10000 talents that would amount to 6 crore denarii. The first servant had a friend who owed him just 100 denarii. A person who was forgiven for not paying 6 crore denarii was not willing to forgive a fellow servant whose debt was just 100 denarii. Like the first servant who pleaded mercy to the king, this fellow servant also pleaded for mercy and patience, but the forgiven first servant did not show any mercy. The first servant put his fellow servant in jail. Though the man got crores and lakhs, he lacked and was bankrupt in certain things in his thinking, attitude and character.
Lack of Gratitude
The attitude of gratitude was missing. The servant pleaded for mercy and received it. He could have been grateful for a moment for the king, but did not have an attitude of gratitude. If an enemy king offered a little more amount, he would have simply turned against the benevolent king who forgave him.
He did not understand the worth or value of the forgiveness he received. Lucky, that he was forgiven, if not he would have endured jail which was his fate. The fatalistic mindset could not have gratitude as a virtue. With one denarii as daily wage, this man could not pay back even if he worked for all his life. This man lived for his present, never bothered about future or eternity. If he has, he will enjoy. If not, he will endure with an attitude of resignation. And he will envy those who have and try to destroy who try to come up in life.
In the parable it is clear, for him god was money or mammon. Nothing else matters, even the creator God or benevolent people like the king in his life. He entered into multiple debts, because he was greedy of gaining more money. Without prudence and application of mind, he lost all and became a huge debtor. Earning money – legal or illegal; legitimate means or illegitimate means; moral or immoral; did not matter. The ultimate purpose and pursuit was just money, wealth and prestige.
Lack of Grace
A receptor of grace ought to be a giver of grace. The king in the parable was merciful and gracious that he heard the servant’s pleadings for mercy. Either he feigned humility and distress or it was genuine, we are not sure. However, the king was moved and was willing to extend his mercy. In a moment he was forgiven 10000 talents of debt. The servant might have been surprised and perhaps shocked, as he was just expecting more time to repay money, but was forgiven all his debts.
Selfishness is a block to express mercy and grace. The servant was so selfish that he cannot see beyond himself. His selfish attitude was: all good things, blessings, privileges, rewards belong to me alone. Instead of being steward of the blessings, selfish people want to enjoy it alone. Even when this man saw his fellow servant in a similar condition that he was, he was not moved with compassion, instead with hatred and disdain.
Self-security is another block for showing mercy and grace. The person who was forgiven wanted more for his self-security and comfortable future. His security did not come from God but from his possessions. The more the better, the more is safer. Hence, he wanted to collect all outstanding dues from his poor fellow servant with ruthlessness.
Self-importance is a handicap for demonstrating mercy to others. Being in a bigger income class made him feel he was above the rest. Did he not have the audience of the king? His fellow servant was not that important, perhaps very low in the hierarchy. So, the forgiven servant treated his fellow servant as a less-fortunate or lower status or a marginalized person deserves. The self-importance made this man think that he deserves all he got, though it was mercy of the king and his fellow servant does not deserve any mercy. It was an arbitrary decision against his fellow servant.
Lack of Generosity
The money his fellow servant was one in six lakhs (1 in 600000). It was miniscule amount compared with what was forgiven by the king. Though forgiven and debt-free, he failed to be generous. He was a miser. There is a Tamil proverb that states: A miser will not even drive away crows when his hand is dipped in his rice porridge. The miser thinks even the grains of rice sticking in his hand will fall if he waves his hand to scare away the crows while enjoying his meal.
Only when a person learns to be grateful, he could be generous. That means humility dominates the life. The right thought is: I do not deserve all these, but God has given me graciously, so I will be generous. The one talented man in the Parable of Talents could have given away to the poor instead he buried it. The Rich Young Man could not sell his possessions and give to the poor. Generosity and Grace are like Siamese twins, always operate together.
The unmerciful servant is a warning to each one of us. This Parable was addressed to Peter with regard to the issue of forgiving others. It is not easy to forgive others who hurt us and hate us. This parable is a litmus test for Christian living. God has forgiven us, because we are not able to pay back the debt of sin and escape death. For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) This should change my paradigm. Is my heart filled with Gratitude for God? Does that Gratitude is expressed in being gracious and courteous to others? Does the Gratitude and Grace demonstrate generosity in our lives? May God help us to have the mind of Christ that transforms our attitude towards God, others and possessions.