One of the most shocking parables Jesus ever told was the one about the Unmerciful Servant. Remember how it goes? The servant owed his master an unpayable debt worth millions of dollars, begged the master for mercy and received an unimaginable gift: the total forgiveness of the debt. Then he turned right around and forgot. Soon he came across a fellow servant who owed him a few bucks and demanded repayment. If that isn’t disturbing enough, what really rocks our world is the Master’s reaction to what he saw: He revoked his forgiveness, reinstated the unpayable debt, and turned the evil servant over to jailers to be tortured until his debt was paid (Matthew 18:21-35).

This was one of the few parables Jesus actually interpreted for his disciples. It must be hugely important! How does the “gracelessness” manifest itself in our lives and churches?

•When someone falls into sin or is “found out” we silently scorn them rather than pray for their recovery.
•Even when that person shows true evidence of repentance and restoration, we still keep a snapshot of that person’s failure in our mental files and relate to him or her with veiled skepticism.
•We want other people to give us the benefit of the doubt when we fail to do what we promised, to understand when we give up, to cut us some slack when we are going through a hard time and don’t have the best attitude, but then we are not quick to extend that same grace to others.
•We look at the outward appearance of people, or their manner of behavior and if it doesn’t measure up to our view of propriety or decorum for church services or ministry involvement we shove them to the periphery.
•Only people who have been part of our church for a long time are really and truly part of “us.” The rest are the “them.” And whether we sense it or not we make them feel like they kind of clutter things up.
PRAYER: Lord, the thing about cold shoulders is that people who have them never feel cold and insensitive. So that means I could be one of those people in ways I’ve never recognized. In fact, I would not be surprised to find that is the case if you would show me where. Please do that for me and my church. Amen.