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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 5/1/1992

Mercy or Meanness?

Jesus told a parable about a man who received mercy, but showed meanness (read Matthew 18:23-35). In this story, a servant owed his master a very large sum of money, but he could not pay his debt. The master said that he would have to sell the servant, along with his family, in order to get his money back. But the servant cried, and begged for mercy (kindness—which he did not deserve). Jesus said that when the master saw this, "he was moved with compassion, and forgave him." What does it mean for you to have "compassion"? It means that you feel sorry for someone else, and want to help them. The master felt sorry for his servant, and wanted to help him. So, he told the servant that he would never have to repay his debt.

Shortly after this happened, the servant was talking to one of his fellow servants. This fellow servant owed him a tiny amount of money, but he could not pay it back. What would you think the servant did? His master had just freed him from his debt. So, you might think that the servant would do the same for his fellow servant. But he didn't! He became angry, and had his fellow servant thrown into prison—just for owing him a tiny amount!

The servant's master heard about this, and was angry. So, the master ordered the servant to be thrown into prison as well.

What point was Jesus teaching in this parable? The servant wanted mercy, and he received it from his master. But the man's fellow servant wanted mercy, and all he got was meanness. Is that the right way to treat others? No, it is not. Jesus wants us to know that God loves us, and He has compassion on us. We should do the same for those around us. If we do not have mercy on others, God will not have mercy on us.



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