Numerous psychological studies have demonstrated what is known as the “endowment effect,” in which people tend to value things they own more highly than those they do not. For instance, someone may be willing to pay no more than 50¢ for a pencil; once they have a pencil, though, they might be unwilling to sell it for any less than $1. Human beings exhibit a strong proclivity to overvalue the things we believe are ours and undervalue those belonging to others.
One might identify a similar effect at work in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Although he owed an enormous debt—far more than he could ever hope to repay—to his master, this servant showed little appreciation for its value. When his master graciously forgave that debt, the servant offered nary a word of thanks—and certainly not the profusion of thanks such an amount would have warranted. On the other hand, he highly valued the debt owed to him. Encountering a fellow servant to whom he had lent a far smaller sum, not only did he violently choke the other man but even had him thrown in jail.
Jesus’ point in this parable is not simply that His followers should make better financial calculations or reassess how they value debts they owe compared to those owed to them. Jesus is calling us to live lives of forgiveness, being so willing to forgive others that we would do so again and again. Too often we, like the servant in the parable, desire for others to forgive us generously even while we forgive others grudgingly.
If we truly appreciate the generosity of God’s grace, which is willing to forgive our exorbitant debt that we can never repay on our own, can we really live in any other way than by emulating that generosity and forgiveness in our dealings with others?
Jesus stresses forgiveness. He does not call us to pretend we are not injured when people sin against us. Rather, we are to confront them—first one on one, then with one or two others, and then with the church (vv. 15–17)—so that there may be genuine reconciliation. Is there someone with whom you should pursue forgiving reconciliation?
Today, please include the rest of Moody Publishers Finance team in your prayers: Jonathan Swanson, Richard Peterson, and Susan Malnati. Their attention to detail and accounting skills contribute to the success of Moody Publishers’ mission.