Bible Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Shouldn’t you have mercy . . . just as I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:33
A SHADOWY IMAGE appears on the television screen. His voice warbles oddly, and a line of type scrolls across the bottom of the screen: Manny (not his real name) is speaking on condition of anonymity. His image and voice have been altered to protect his identity.
“I had it made. Money, car, apartment in town, house in the suburbs. I’d gotten into a little debt-OK, so it was a lot. Millions. I’d kinda ‘borrowed’ it from the company, if you know what I mean.”
The shadowy figure shifts in his chair. “My boss found out, told his boss. Eventually it got all the way to the top. So the owner of the company called me in, told me he wanted the money I took. I says, ‘I ain’t got it right now. But I’ll pay it back, honest.’
“Then he tells me he could send me away for a very long time and have my family thrown out into the street. I told him, ‘Look, I’ll do anything. I’ll pay back every cent-with interest. All’s I need is a little time.’
“The big boss stared at me for a long time, not sayin’ nothin’. Finally he says, ‘Tell you what. I’ll give you a break. I’ll forget all about the money. You walk outta here a free man. Just don’t try somethin’ like that again.’
“I couldn’t believe it! He let me off the hook-” the man snapped his fingers—”just like that! I walked outta his office like I was walkin’ on air!
“When I got out into the boss’s reception area, I saw Mike Kennedy, a guy I used to work with. I says to Kennedy, ‘I want the two thousand you owe me,’ and he says, ‘I can give you some now and the rest in a few weeks.’ I says to Kennedy, ‘That ain’t good enough.’ I told him if he didn’t get all the money to me by the end of the day, I’d ruin him. I figured he had it-he was just holdin’ out on me, you know?
“Well, it turns out the boss’s secretary heard me talkin’ to Kennedy, and next thing I know, the boss calls me back into his office. He says, ‘Didn’t I give you a break? a million-dollar break? But after I show mercy to you, you go out and refuse to have a little mercy on Kennedy. Well,’ he says to me, ‘the deal is off.’ Next thing I know”-the camera pans out to show a background of prison bars behind the anonymous story teller-“I’m wearin’ an orange jumpsuit and makin’ license plates.
“Wanna know the funny part?” the man asks without a trace of humor in his voice. “Kennedy got my old job!”
REFLECT: What do you think the story above and Jesus’ parable teach about the benefits of showing mercy to others?
PRAY: “God, you have forgiven me for so many sins. I ask you now to help me forgive______________ for___________________________.”