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“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
—Matthew 18:21-35 English Standard Version (ESV)*
A major rental property management company sent out a message to all its renters across the country, saying that no one would face eviction for non-payment during this government-induced economic catastrophe. I suspect there are many businesses that are similarly behaving well. It seems to me that the endpoint will still be renters, both residential and small businesses, who are so far behind that they will not be able to get out from under the debt.
There is a fairly simple answer. Congress should make debt forgiveness fully refundable on quarterly tax payments, rewarding banks, and businesses that are good citizens and not like the wicked servant, seeking government assistance for themselves while not showing such mercy to their own debtors. Reward mercy and longer-term wisdom.
*The estimate is that a talent, a weight measure, was around 6,000 denarii silver coins. If so, that means the wicked servant had run up 10,000 X 6,000 = 60,000,000 denarii, or 600,000 times the other servant’s debt. The point of the parable was the difference in the scale of the moral debts we feel other people owe to us, versus the moral debt we own our Creator.Published in