Got Talent?

Today’s reading is Matthew 18:23-34 and Psalm 115.

We will focus on the parable in Matthew which many of us our familiar with where a king forgave a servant 10,000 talents. Some resources indicate 1 talent is about 20 years of wages in biblical times so 10,000 talents would be 200,000 years of wages! However, when the servant was released and someone owed him 100 denarii which resources say is about 4 months wages, he did not show the same grace. In fact, he had him thrown into prison.

Tonight, I was talking with a friend about a mutual relationship we have with another individual who we both have a disagreement with. My friend made a comment in which he said something to the effect of…”you’re a little more forgiving than me on items like this” with this person. However, while I would like to say I’m living this out…I would say this very circumstantial and is not the case anywhere near to the level the Bible calls us to do. He doesn’t know this, but I actually went off on this person’s boss about them at one point and learned later I was quick to judge, didn’t know some things about the individual, and felt the need to apologize to this person’s boss for my quick and harsh judgement without knowing everything. This person’s boss is also someone I’m trying to witness, too. Oops..I did not show them a very good example to draw them to Christ in this case did I?!

One time I even took a personality assessment which said I’m typically forgiving….to an extent. It said I give individuals chances, but when it reaches a certain “breaking point,’ I’m completely done with them and write them off. I’m not going out on a limb to say my breaking point is WAY less than 10,000 talents!

In fact, I often find my amount of forgiveness depends on the relationship with the person or if I find myself with similar beliefs. I’m quick to forgive family, a close friend. or those that have the same political beliefs as me or are on the sports team I root for. Yet, I am quick to condemn someone who stumbles and makes a mistake that has different political views or is a celebrity I don’t know or is on a rival sports team for example. This is just wrong. It shouldn’t matter. I need to realize that I’m called to forgiven in the same way Jesus has forgiven me as this parable teaches of. If Jesus held me to the same standard I hold others to, I’d be in big trouble.

As we read through the Psalms, we come across many passages that talk about having a healthy fear of the Lord. This passage is very humbling because it reminds us at the end that if we don’t forgive others, the Lord will not forgive us. It is also humbling because reminds me how thankful I should be that the Lord has forgiven my sins that come not just by the hour, but by the minute. By using 10,000 talents or 200,000 years wages…He wanted to show the unbelievable depth of His forgiveness and grace. He washes ALL our sins white as snow. It is not circumstantial like my forgiveness of others which I must improve on. All we have to do is believe in Him and ask…and give the same grace to others. God is great!

Discerning People

There is so much in the Bible instructing us not to judge others and at the same time there is much in the Bible instructing us on how to judge others righteously, even warning us that we need to be able to look to the fruit to understand who a person is. How could this be? We know the Bible does not contradict itself. I have come to believe that one of the worst attacks on the truth is the weakening of the language. For example, my understanding is that our word ‘judge’ is translated from 20 different original words. Imagine all the instructive contextual meaning that was lost in this mashup. It is then up to us to investigate the difference between attempting to judge the heart and motive of another and discriminating between the truth and a lie, or put another way, between life giving righteousness and sin that leads to death.

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 17; Psalms 60–61

After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. And David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the Ammonites. But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away. 2 Samuel 10:1-4

It is sad to read the rest of the account and how this terrible misjudgment lead to war. Here are a couple lessons I think we can learn from this reading:

  1. Be careful who you lend your ear to, from whom you take your advice. Instead of a righteous judgement in truth: perhaps considering the question, “is it a good thing that David sent comforters?”, the suspicious questions Hanun received from his advisors were aimed directly at David’s motives. And they missed by a mile.
  2. Do not judge motives. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) But again what is the difference in judging and discerning? The Bible warns us again and again that judging others come with heavy and dire consequences as does not discriminating. God please help us get this right.

If you are looking for answers to understanding the difference between sinful and righteous judgment, I recently listened to a sermon called Stop Criticizing that I would recommend. It was part of a series called Mishandled: Setting the Record Straight on Frequently Abused Bible Verses. It is on judging and worked from Jesus’s teaching on human relations from His Sermon on the Mount, while also taking a comprehensive look at the Scripture as it relates to this subject.