Yesterday, I wrote about devoted friends and how blessed we are to have them in our lives. Perhaps one, two, or more of you are not as blessed. Perhaps you, on the other hand, feel like your friends or even your church family has let you down. Well, here is one very real possibility: You just may be expecting more from them than you should. What we expect from others is oftentimes unreasonable. We may want them to be like us or else we may unknowingly play the comparison game on them. Parents make this mistake often. They will tell one of their children, “why can’t you be like your brother or sister?” In fact, children that hear those words are very likely to rebel. They will often try to be the opposite of their brother or sister just for spite.
Jesus gave a parable in Matthew 18 of a master who called in one of his servants who was deeply indebted to him. The man’s debt was enormous. Bible scholars believe that in today’s economy it would be in the neighborhood of ten million dollars. When the servant couldn’t pay the debt, the master commanded that he, along with his wife and children be sold until the debt was paid. When the servant fell down before his master pleading for patience, and promising to pay, verse 27 reads: “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”
This parable is primarily intended to show God’s great mercy. When sinners come to Him in sincere repentance, He not only forgives them, He erases a debt they could never possibly repay, just as we saw in the parable. By the same token, many today whose sin debt has been completely erased, still haven’t forgiven someone who they feel “owes” them something, whether it is money, time, attention or something else. Such was the case in the parable. The servant whose enormous debt was forgiven did not forgive a fellow servant who owed him something equivalent to twenty dollars today. He forgot how much he had been forgiven. I tell our congregation often: “Live life as if nobody owes you anything.” If you can do that, you will never go around feeling cheated or neglected, and if somebody “pays” you something you will be overjoyed at the wonderful surprise. Perhaps you will not agree with my theology, that’s okay, but I believe that nobody owes us anything. On the other hand, I believe we owe many people many things. Of course, it is true that people, churches, or pastors can let people down. After all, churches are comprised of imperfect people. However, I also know this to be true: Loyalty is a two-way street. Many people who have left their church because they feel it let them down, fail to realize that they themselves were not as faithful as they could have been. This is the same as those who have no or very few friends. The best way to have friends is to go out and win them. Proverbs 18:24 says in part: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” If we don’t expect more from people than we should, we will all be just fine.
God’s word for today: (Romans 13:8) “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”