Eat and Be Eaten

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Jesus told the parable of a servant who owed his master a huge amount of money (Matthew 18:23-35). He was about to lose everything, including his freedom, when his master graciously forgave the debt.

"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" (Matthew 18:28). Did he just not make the connection in his mind, or was he simply too humiliated because he’d had to beg for his freedom, that the servant went out and threw another man into jail because he couldn’t pay a much smaller debt? Did it make him feel bigger to abuse someone after his master had made him feel smaller by being generous?

We all know people (and perhaps ARE those people) who act as though everyone else is stupid and they’re smart, or everyone else is wrong and they’re right. We all know people who seem to delight in pointing out the “weaknesses” or sins of others. While they might humbly acknowledge that they aren’t perfect, it’s a false humility that seeks to be assured that they are as close to perfect, or right, or smart, as anyone can get. Whether it be the result of a poor self-image (so easy to blame bad behaviour on that!), or simple immaturity, it’s wrong to tear down others in order to build yourself up.

Over the last while I’ve heard a lot of good people reduced to rubble by others who think they are better, smarter, or “righter.” The tendency is to respond in kind and I confess I’ve done that. The truth is, living or working in that kind of atmosphere contaminates everything and everyone in the vicinity of it.

The so-named “Golden Rule” based on Matthew 7:12 says that we are to treat others the same way we would like others to treat us. Both positively and negatively, that is exactly what happens.

The first servant didn’t appreciate the second chance he had been given. He didn’t pass on the blessing of that second chance. The result was that there was no third chance. Eventually, tearing others down to build ourselves up comes back to haunt us just as it did in the case of the unforgiving servant.

The lesson is summed up in Galatians 5:14-15: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.


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