Make your way downtown to NE Court Street in the heart of Salem and you will find the most delightful bread shop on the planet. Yes, the bread is good -- In fact very good. Some would boast it to be the “best bread in the world.” But the thing that sets this shop apart from the rest is their contagious generosity. Whether you are a paying customer or not, their generous spirit is as palatable as the fresh slice of whole wheat bread you’ll find yourself eating when you walk through their doors. Spend a lunch hour watching this establishment serve people and you will find a cheerful, sincere and delightful worker who denies nobody and asks everybody, “Would you like a piece of bread?”
As Christ-followers, we are expected to be generous. Because of God’s move to forgive our waywardness by way of the cross, we have the privilege of being a distribution station of His great love. In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus illustrates the imperative of forgiveness. As we consider this story, may we be moved to freely RECEIVE God’s compassion, mercy and grace when at our worst, and generously DISTRIBUTE these same goods when we experience the worst in others.
His Bread is Life,
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
About the Author
Dusty serves as our lead pastor. He is a gifted leader, administrator and communicator with a passion to help others grow in their God-given potential. He joined the team as an associate pastor in 2009 and later transitioned to the role of lead pastor in January 2010. Dusty previously served as a youth pastor and director of youth camps and leadership events, for Foursquare churches in the Northwest, at Camp Crestview. He and his wife, Julie, grew up in the area and have three sons and five grandchildren.