The Unforgiving Servant
By Dell Smith Klein
For three weeks in a row, Kyle had loaned Eric some of his allowance money. Eric had promised to pay it back in time for the Harvest Festival. But when festival time arrived, Kyle couldn’t find Eric anywhere, so Kyle didn’t have enough money to attend.
“I’ll never forgive him,” Kyle said.
One of Jesus disciples asked him about forgiveness. Peter thought he was being generous when he asked Jesus if it was enough to forgive a person seven times. But Jesus surprised Peter when he said, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven” (Verse 22).
What does seventy times seven equal? (Allow the children to respond.) Seventy times seven equals four hundred and ninety! That’s a lot, isn’t it?
Jesus went on to tell a story about an unforgiving servant. Here’s Jesus’ story: Long ago lived a king who had many servants. His servants often borrowed money from him. One day, the king decided it was time to collect all the money they owed him. He discovered that one of the servants owed him a lot of money. When the man couldn’t pay, the king commanded that the man be sold, and his wife and children, too! The servant threw himself down on the floor and he begged, “Have patience with me, and I will repay you.” (Verse 29) The king felt sorry for the man and changed his mind about selling the servant and his family. Not only that, the king forgave the entire debt that the servant owed!
Do you think the servant who had just been forgiven a huge debt by the king would be forgiving to someone who owed him a little bit of money? (Allow the children to respond.) He wasn’t! When he found a fellow servant who owned him money he demanded he pay it back and when the other servant couldn’t pay, he did not forgive the debt. Instead,he had his fellow servant thrown into jail.
What do you think happened when the king heard about that? (Allow the children to respond.) The king was not happy! He called the unforgiving servant back before him. The king said, “I forgave you all that debt….Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant?” (Verses 33 and 34) The king sent the unforgiving servant to be punished.
When Kyle heard the story, he realized he didn’t want to be like the unforgiving servant. Kyle quickly forgave Eric. Forgiving someone when they say mean things, or when they don’t pay back money they owe is hard. But, we can because Jesus has forgiven us all our sins—even the sins no one else knows about.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the story of the unforgiving servant. We want to learn to be forgiving and kind. Help us to forgive from our hearts. Amen.
Scripture quotations from the World English Bible
Copyright 2013, Richard Niell Donovan