And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?…
There is one thing that is needful in all true religion — there is no religion without it — and that is love towards God. It is quite true that some Christians love God more than others. Cannot you fancy what those two men went through? They would not each go through the same experience. There was a great difference between their cases. Take the first man. You can fancy his saying to himself: " Well, it is a nasty thing, this little debt of mine; I wish I had not got so much behindhand; I do not quite know how I am going to clear it off, but I must try: perhaps my creditor will be content with a few instalments; if I pay him half a crown a week for such a time I shall begin to make a hole in the debt, and, ultimately, he may get it all: I must cast myself on his forbearance." The other can indulge in no such hope. Let one of you — a poor, labouring man, earning fifteen or eighteen shillings a week — put himself in that man's position. Just imagine yourself encumbered with a debt of a hundred pounds. How hopeless a thing it would seem to you; all your efforts to clear it off must fail; you might work almost to death, and yet the debt would be there still. We can fancy what took place in that man's house as the reckoning day drew near. The debt laws in those countries, you know, were terribly severe. His feeling is one of hopelessness. The prison looms up in view; he will be sold, and all that he hath, his children will be torn from him; his little home will be broken up. How desolate the man feels! Try to make him happy if you can. Go and talk cheerfully to him. Tell him to have good hope, to keep up his courage, .and that sort of thing. You cannot bring a smile to the man's face; he looks as miserable as he can be. On his way he meets the other man, and he asks him what his business is. "Well," says he, "I have got an awkward affair — not very serious, but still awkward; I have a nasty little debt that I cannot settle; I am sure I don't know how the creditor will treat me; there are those fifty pence that I owe him; I know he has a right to exact them to the very last farthing, and I have 'nothing to pay'; I do not know how he will deal with me." "Well, what are you going to do?" "Oh, I am going to make a few proposals to him, and see if I cannot get him to take a few instalments, so that I may pay him off by degrees. What is your case, my poor fellow? You look very sad." "Oh, mine is a far more serious case than yours." At last the great man stands before them. "Well," he says, "have you got your money?" They both hang down their heads. Turning to one he says, "Have you got your fifty pence?" "No, sir, I have not got it." "Why have you not got it?" "Well, sir, the truth is, I have got no money — I am a bankrupt — I have nothing to pay." Then, turning to the other, he says, "What have you got to say for yourself? Have you got your five hundred pence?" His head hangs down; tears come into the strong man's eyes; his body quivers with emotion; he can hardly control himself. The next moment the mystery is solved. "He frankly forgave them both." The one man rises to his feet, and says, "Sir, I thank you." "The other drops on his knees, and buries his head in his hands. He cannot thank his benefactor, he is too much overpowered. The one man feels, "Well, he is very kind in his dealing with me." The other feels," He has saved me from ruin; I should have been utterly lost if this man had not acted such a generous part towards me." The one man goes out of the house with a kind of respectful feeling towards his benefactor. The other goes away with the feeling that he has been bought over, so to speak, by the benefactor's goodness: that all that he has, and all that he is, belongs to that man who has stretched out his hand of forgiveness, and done him so unexpected a favour. Now, my dear friends, among the many figures which bring before us some idea of our sin, there are very few more suggestive than this figure of debt. Now, is there any difference between us in this respect? Yes, doubtless, there are shades of difference. Some owe more than others. Some have been more prodigal in wasting the Master's substance than others; but there are none of us who can say that they owe an inconsiderable debt. Friends, have you come to the point which these debtors reached? Have you discovered, that all your life, you have been heaping up debt, and that you have "nothing to pay?" What! will you tell me that these debtors did not know that they were forgiven? There are plenty of nominal Christians in our day who say, "Ah! but then we cannot know that we are forgiven; we may have a faint idea about it, but we cannot know it." Did not these debtors know it?
(W. Hay Aitken.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?