The Big Picture
By Donald Hughes, 2018
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of the servants:
“And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
“But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
“The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
“Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
“But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence; and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that thou owest.
“And the fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
“And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
“So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
“Then the lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me;
“Should not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
“And the lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due onto him.”
This parable is found in the 18th chapter of Matthew. Although it has a great deal to do with forgiveness, it has another profound meaning: it is unclear what the exact value of a “talent” was, or a “pence”, but what is clear is the ratio between the two. Put into today’s monetary reference, say the “hundred pence” were $100. The “ten thousand talents” debt so freely forgiven, would approach $1 Billion! A totally incomprehensible amount of debt to be owing, much less forgiven. Yet the lord of the servants did just that. The servant who was forgiven had no vision of the “big picture”, but only able to see the small amount that he himself was owed.
In today’s world, we often have our sights set on what we feel we are owed, how we have been transgressed upon, or offended by. The lord in this parable wanted to illustrate how insignificant our problems are, how ungrateful we are, and how short-sighted we have become compared to the big picture. We are facing great challenges and problems in our times, yet we seem only to focus on what affects us personally, how someone offended us, what someone said or did that made us uncomfortable, or what we feel is unfair treatment. In this parable, ponder the big picture and ask yourself, am I the lord of the servants, the first servant, the second servant, the fellow servants, or maybe the tormentors? Only you can decide.