Spiritual Success or Distress?
Quarter 2, Lesson 7

Lesson Seven

God's Servant Is Merciful

Text: Matthew 18:21-35

God is merciful. Mercy naturally expresses God's nature. It is not merely an action that God chooses to take. Mercy expresses who and what God is. It is a window into God's being. The just God is also the merciful God. Justice does not exclude mercy. The all powerful God is the merciful God. Power does not override or overshadow mercy. The perfect God in whom evil is totally absent is merciful to imperfect people in whom evil is always present. Perfect purity and righteousness do not exclude mercy.

God who is totally free of evil finds it natural to be merciful. Expressing mercy is not a struggle for God. Humanity who is never free of evil struggles to be merciful. We who cannot eliminate evil within us regard mercy as "unnatural."

The Christian's debt to God's mercy exceeds calculation. God ransomed us from evil because He is merciful. God atoned for our sins with the blood of Jesus because He is merciful. God forgives us because He is merciful. God gives us new life in Christ because He is merciful. Hope, peace, strength, contentment, and resurrection are available to us in Christ because God is merciful. Without mercy, none of these are available to any of us.

He or she who serves the merciful God becomes God's agent of mercy. The Christian who refuses to be merciful cannot serve or represent the God of mercy.

Developing a desire to be merciful and the ability to express mercy is an enormous challenge. Every Christian wants to receive God's mercy. Yet, we commonly struggle to be merciful. We wish to extend mercy (1) to those who do not need it or (2) to those we think deserve it. Mercy is extended to those in great need. Those in the great need of mercy do not deserve mercy. Mercy is something we wish to receive from God in greater quantity than we wish to extend to people. You can forgive people who hurt you unjustly. Only the person who hurts you needs your forgiveness. Our readiness to forgive depends on our awareness of our forgiveness.

Matthew 18:21-35

  1. Jesus' parable was a response to Peter's question. What question did Peter ask Jesus (verse 21)?

  2. What numeric answer did Jesus give to Peter's question (verse 22)?

  3. Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a king who did what (verse 23)?

  4. One particular slave appeared before him who owed the king how much (verse 24)? That amount is the approximate equivalent of ten million dollars. What is the likelihood of a first century slave acquiring ten million dollars to eliminate a personal indebtedness? Would you consider this an impossible debt?

  5. When the slave could not pay the debt (full payment due on demand), what action did the king decide to take to "cut his losses" (verse 25)?

  6. How did the slave react to the king's decision to sell him and his family (verse 26)? Remember, the family could be separated and sold to different buyers.

  7. What feeling did the king have (verse 27)?

    1. What did the king do about the slave?

    2. What did the king do about the debt? What does that mean?

  8. Soon after the slave left the king's presence, he searched for a fellow slave who owed him one hundred day's wages. For a slave, this was not an insignificant debt. However, it was a manageable debt.

    1. How did the released slave treat the slave who owed him money (verse 28)?

    2. What did the released slave demand of the indebted slave?

  9. How did the slave who owed him the money respond (verse 29)? Compare the responses of each slave to the person whom he owed.

  10. The released slave was unwilling to be patient.

    1. What action did the released slave take against the slave who owed him (verse 30)?

    2. How long was this to last? What obvious difficulty was created for the indebted slave?

  11. Fellow slaves saw what happened.

    1. How did they feel (verse 31)?

    2. What action did they take?

  12. When the king learned what happened, what action did he take (verse 32)?

    1. Of what did he remind the slave who owed him an impossible debt?

    2. According to the king, what appropriate response should this slave shown the slave who owed him one hundred days wages (verse 33)?

  13. What feeling did the king have this time (verse 34)?

    1. What action did the king take?

    2. How long would this slave continue to receive this treatment?

    3. What would that mean?

  14. If we refuse to forgive a fellow disciple from the heart, how did Jesus say the heavenly Father would respond to us? Remember, Jesus was talking to Peter. In context, this specifically applies to Christians. State the principle. How should we treat our spouses? children? parents? neighbors? coworkers? fellow Christians? people who seek God? people who do not seek God? Do you find this parable sobering? Why?

Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 2, Lesson 7

Copyright © 2000
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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