Do we find it hard to show mercy?
Our Scripture reading comes from Matthew 18:33, quoting from the NIV: “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
Yes—but what about the consequences? As Christ followers one of the questions we must consider is “Do we find it hard to show mercy?” In striving to live out one’s faith in one’s profession, Christian leaders must rightly handle this issue.
In Matthew 18:21-35 the apostle Peter asked Jesus for clarification as to how often he must forgive a fellow believer who sins against him. In leadership this is not a rhetorical question. Apparently, Peter’s personal or leadership experience had presented him with the brother who made a habit of offending others, taking advantage them, or evading responsibility.
Understandably, hypocrisy is a label believers deserve if we display the response of the merciless servant referred to in Matthew 18:33, but what about consequences for certain actions and our requirement to hold others accountable? With authority comes responsibility to maintain standards and acceptable levels of performance.
The leader basically bears the responsibility to correct, discipline and keep communication channels open. He or she is also accountable to foster goodwill and to forgive. Though not exclusively a leadership problem, Christ demonstrates the correct response to be the practice of mercy, compassion, or forgiveness. Christ does not limit the number of times one is to forgive because His action on the cross would provide the most lavish, inclusive display the world would ever witness.
So great and undeserved would be the forgiveness He grants that through Peter we are warned of the severe consequences of refusing to forgive. If you find it hard to forgive, remember that we were all once in need of undeserved grace and were shown mercy (1 Peter 2:25).
Points to Ponder
Over the next week, here are 3 points to ponder during your personal time of reflection or with a small group or mentor.
- First, In the home or at work, would our response to offenders be different if we asked ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” (see Matthew 18:33).
- Second, The king in the account had an expectation of the servant he forgave. In our deliberations will we consider the positive change forgiveness can bring about in an offender’s life? (see 2 Corinthians 2:7).
- Third, Regardless of another’s response to our leniency, what effect will our willingness to be merciful have on our own character and quality of life? (see Matthew 18:35).