Participant trophies

Forgiven? Or Forgetful?


Parable Of The The Unforgiving Servant

Matthew 18:23-35

“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 bags of gold 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.

“At this 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 silver coins. 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 it 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 outraged 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 handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Of the numerous parables Jesus spoke, this one may be among the most apparent in what it is trying to convey: “In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart,” Jesus said.”  Pretty clear, don’t you think?

Short Memory

It might seem that the first servant had a very short memory.  Although it’s a made-up story, we might assume that the amount of time from when the first servant received mercy from the master, then chose not to extend mercy to his fellow servant had not been long enough for him to have forgotten or had a lapse of memory.  Then why did he do it?  Why the incongruence?  Receiving mercy, yet giving only unforgiveness.

A buzz word often used in the past couple decades has been the word “entitlement.”  Those who bemoan the idea of a person thinking they are entitled to some thing, or some benefit, or some reward … just because, may have not looked closely enough at themselves in the mirror.  I’ve convinced that we all have some entitlement issues in our lives.  They just may not look the same as others’.

Participant trophiesIt’s Endemic

Without a doubt, entitlement thinking presents itself in a myriad of ways.  But all entitlement has the same thing at its root:  I deserve something more than someone else!  

One may claim that another thinks they should get a good job “just because they have a college degree.”  Conversely, one may say about another that they shouldn’t get certain benefits “just because they have lots of money to pay for them.”  Why do we have such a difficult time with things today where every participant gets a trophy?  Shouldn’t they have to earn it?  But what if it just so happened to be me that “earned it,” but did not receive a trophy.  Then what might be my view of trophies?  I was entitled to the trophy because I believe I was worthy of it based upon an arbitrary standard of measure.

Do we really need to continue to create a society where there has to be a winner and a loser at every turn?  That will be a growing conversation for the generations to come.


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