Much is made of the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35) being a lesson on unforgiveness, and of the inherent dangers in not freely offering up forgiveness toward others. There is, however, another lesson ABBA Father has shown me from this parable.
In the verses of Matthew chapter 18, we find a MASTER who decides to bring all of his accounts up to date. During this process, the Master realizes that he has a servant owing an ‘enormous’ amount of money. When this servant is confronted and challenged about his debt, he begs for clemency, and for the opportunity to pay it off (even though the amount in question would probably take several life-times to repay). Moved by compassion, the Master cancels the entire debt.
Is this servant/borrower ‘repentant’ over his debt? Is there a shame at having taken such advantage of his Master’s generosity? He is obviously sorry he has been caught, that the Master HAS called the debt due and payable, because initially, he thought the debt would NOT have to be repaid. But how did he accumulate such a large debt in the first place, if not by selfish motives? Regret is NOT repentance, as we see by this individual’s next actions, when he immediately turned upon a fellow servant that owed HIM a very small amount. TRUE repentance carries with it a responsibility, and accountability, not only to OUR Master, our Creator, but to each other as well.
“… do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released.” (Luke p)
Noah Webster lists two different types of repentance in his dictionary. He calls the 1st, “legal repentance”, and defines it as “the pain or regret which a person feels on account of his past conduct, BECAUSE it exposes him to punishment. This sorrow proceeds MERELY from the fear of punishment, and the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life (change for the better)”. Mr. Webster calls the 2nd type “evangelical repentance”, and it is defined as “REAL repentance, sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as AN OFFENSE AND DISHONOR TO GOD, and a violation of His holy law. This IS accompanied and followed by amendment of life (a change for the better)” (American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, emphasis mine).
I have heard, out of the mouths of born-again believers in Messiah Yeshua, that they have repented and confessed their sins, they know they are forgiven, and that their past is now under the blood of Yeshua – which it is, IF they have walked through “teshuva”, REAL repentance. But where is the “godly sorrow” that brings about the change in a person’s lifestyle – the “fruit UNTO repentance”, that John the Baptizer talked about (Matthew 3:8)? THIS is the fruit that would stop any true believer in his/her tracks from going out and turning on a fellow servant of YAH in such a manner. Too many times I see little difference between those who PROFESS to be a disciple of Messiah, and those who belong to the kingdoms of this world: it is all a “dog eat dog” mentality. Beloved, this ought not to be. Our repentance should be a VISIBLE walk of life, just as it was with the Prodigal Son, when he made his long journey home (Luke 15:11-24).
“Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and CHANGE your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants His people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us AWAY from sin and RESULTS IN SALVATION. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, WHICH LACKS REPENTANCE, results in spiritual death.” (2Corinthians 7:9-10
©2015 Merete Marx