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Showing Compassion Towards Our Fellow Servants

By Watchman | August 15, 2010

“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 talents 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.  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 denarii.  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 you 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 greatly distressed 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 turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  This how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”        (Matthew 18:23-33)

     I’ve heard the comment recently from many people that everyone seems remarkably angry nowadays.  In general, I tend to agree.  Incidences of road rage are up; violent crime is rampant; filthy language masquerading as free speech is common; discontent with the government and disagreements  between political ideologies have led to extremely uncontrolled public confrontations.  Add to this mix the newish belief that “we have a RIGHT to be this angry” and the volatility of our society becomes more complete.  The world’s economic crisis being what it is and the moral neutrality we insist upon infecting even the Christian community, this situation is not particularly surprising.    What we who call ourselves believers must ask ourselves is this: do we indeed have the right to be this angry?  Is there a time when civility must be put aside in order to gain our advantage?

     There is such a thing as righteous anger.  Jesus Himself displayed it when He cast out the money-changers and merchants from the temple in Jerusalem. (See Matthew 21:12-13.)   He did not resort  to anger when He was arrested, nor when He appeared before Pilate and Herod, nor when He was nailed to the cross.  His anger was reserved for those who blasphemed by word or deed the holy name of God.  His anger did not manifest itself against those who were dying unknowingly in their sins–for them He showed compassion, mercy and the Way to eternal life.  He never showed anger towards those who could not accept Him, only sadness at their unrepentant condition.  He told His disciples (and therefore us) that “whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment” (Matt. 5:22).  Now, I realise that “without a cause” may be a relative phrase, but it is important that we learn the difference between the world’s definition of sufficient cause and God’s definition of sufficient cause.  I am certain that the Lord becomes angry when we allow the abuse of children and those who are unable to care for themselves to go unchecked;  I believe He becomes angry when we allow our nations to turn their backs on His words regarding what is right and what is wrong in His sight, and when we bestow legitimacy upon the slaughter of our unborn or upon lifestyles He has condemned.   His anger is always righteous anger.  Is ours?  Or are we just reacting negatively to those with opinions that we do not share?  Are we allowing that anger to fester in our hearts until we can no longer feel love or compassion for those who have not yet come to a knowledge of the truth?  If so, then we also will come under the condemnation of Christ.  Further, what we do with that anger will make a huge difference to whether it will be acceptable to the Almighty or whether we will be condemned for it.  If our anger over the declining Godliness of our nations leads us to more boldly proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ and to shine the light of His love more frequently into the dark places we encounter, then we are responding properly to the evil we wish to combat.  If we sound the alarm as watchmen on the wall and warn our fellow servants of the wrath to come , showing them at the same time that we are doing so out of love for them and concern for their eternal souls, we are channeling our anger properly.  If our language is bitter and as spiteful as that of the growing number of those who oppose the word of God, then we become worse than useless–we begin to work for the enemy. 

     There is, which is a great difficulty for many believers, sometimes a fine line between forgiveness and acceptance of evil.  Those who embrace the universalist point of view and believe that God, through Jesus, forgives all men of all sins whether they believe in Him or not, have crossed this line.  They refuse to believe in the God of scripture Who actively condemns evil and evildoers.  Even many well-meaning believers have come to the conclusion that there is virtue in bestowing their blessing on actions and behavior that God has forbidden.  We must never do this.  As Christians we are called upon to treat all people with respect and love, knowing that God loves us all and wishes for all to be saved.  We are also called upon to hate evil and to speak out against it wherever we may find it.  It is not always easy to reconcile the two duties.  We are to hate the sin, but love the sinner.  We are not to encourage the sinner to die in his state of sin.

     Let us say that we can show mercy and compassion towards those groups who oppose us in our walk with Christ, or towards those who we feel are leading our nation into ungodly ways.  Can we show that same mercy and compassion toward that person who hurt our feelings last night?  Toward that person who cheated us out of something we had considered ours by right?  Toward that person who behaved so unfairly or meanly  to us  that our hearts may be sore or even broken?  Jesus told Peter in Matthew 18:22 that we must forgive someone who acts against us “seventy times seven” times (490 times for those of us–like me–who have to work that out on paper).  Jesus knew how hard forgiveness comes for humanity.  Forgiving others is a choice we make, but it is not always an easy one, and it is likely to have to be repeated “seventy times seven” times before we get it through our heads that the forgiveness must be complete.  God said that He would forgive our sins and remember them no more, and that is how we are to forgive others.  We are to forgive them, and remember their sin no more.  Of course, we do not have the completely holy nature yet that God intended us to have at the time of our creation, and so we cannot truly forgive and forget as He does, but we can show compassion to our fellow servants in all situations, so that at Jesus soon return He will show compassion towards us.

Maranatha, my dear brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ!


Topics: A Special Word for Today, According to Scripture, Anger and Forgiveness | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Showing Compassion Towards Our Fellow Servants”

  1. Shirley Says:
    August 15th, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Ah, so good to see you back on-line and writing, Watchman! I think this message is a much-needed one in today’s trying times! I do, indeed, believe it is a word from God! Thank you! Thank you!