Our scripture lesson at church recently was Matthew 18 21-35, the parable of the unmerciful servant. In case you haven’t read it, it is here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+18%3A21-35&version=NIV&src=embed
Now, if you are familiar with this passage, you will know it is a story of financial debt cancellation used to teach about forgiveness in general, but I am coming back to this scripture in a whole new frame of light now: financial debt! (isn’t it funny how things come full circle?)
I happen to be a landlord (by necessity, not by choice or financial savvy) and am in the throes of a property crisis. My current tenant has lost her job and can no longer afford to stay in my house. She will be looking for a new, cheaper, apartment and I will be looking for a new tenant. Now this alone is financially stressful, but there is the added problem of said tenant owing me several thousand dollars. As I mentioned, I am not a landlord for investment purposes, so the several thousand dollars equals mortgage payments that have been paid by yours truly during months that my tenant was unable to pay rent for various reasons. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money for me! When I found out that my tenant would have to move out, this nasty little attitude started creeping in and poisoning my thoughts: Bitterness
Over the last few days, I’ve found myself thinking: “How dare this woman just walk away and not pay me the money that she owes! I am the one who has been responsible and dutifully paying the mortgage on time every month even during the months that she didn’t pay rent. It’s not fair that she should get to walk away and get a clean slate and I have to pay the price!” I have been filled with anxiety and almost a state of nausea over what I thought was fear of my own financial crisis, but last night I realized that the pit in my stomach that’s making me sick is not fear about my finances (I have savings, I have support, I know I will get through the money part and be ok) It’s the insidious desire to go after this woman and get what I deserve.
This thought is not from God, this is the enemy trying to harden my heart and make me forget that 1) I am forgiven 2) my tennant is a child of God dealing with her own set of struggles 3) God is big enough to handle ALL of if and I just have to trust in him. When I remembered these truths last night, the pit in my stomach eased and I was able to sleep. I don’t know if my tenant will ever pay me back, and I don’t know how God will work out my mortgage, but I know that I won’t let bitterness rule my heart!