the Forgiveness Ratio
$2.5 billion is a lot of money. Let’s put it this way…If I had $2.5 billion I could pay every NBA player’s salary this year and still have over $500 million to spare (NBA salaries this year total just south of $1.95 billion).
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.
–Matthew 18:23-24 (ESV)
I’m no expert on currency exchange rates, but using what I do know, I approximated the 10,000 talents that the servant owed the king in Matthew 18 to be the equivalent of $2.5 billion today. Here’s the math:
1 talent was worth 60 minas.
1 mina was what one expected to be paid for three months of labor
1 mina = $4,160 (using modern standards of 40 hours a week at $8 per hour)
1 talent (60 mina) = $249,600
10,000 talents = $2,496,000,000
Even if the dollar figures aren’t exact, the ratios are. Jesus constructed this parable in such a way that the listeners could easily understand the point—the average man, making about $16,000 per year, could never hope to pay back the salaries of the entire NBA. The debt was so huge that the debtor had no hope of doing anything about it himself. But that didn’t stop him from trying.
So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.”
-Matthew 18:26 (ESV)
Really?! You owe someone $2.5 billion and you are asking for a little more time? How ridiculous must I look to God when I try to fix my sin problem on my own? I can’t count the times I’ve told God “I’m sorry I messed up, but I’ll get it right next time.” Do I really think, like the man in the parable, that a little more time and effort will fix that kind of debt? Obviously, the King knows my condition, just like He knew that debtor’s, and does more than I ask.
And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
–Matthew 18:27 (ESV)
$6,400 is a lot of money to most of us, but is nothing compared to the $2.5 billion mentioned earlier. Let’s put it this way…$6,400 could pay the salary of one NBA team for about 18 seconds of game time.
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.”
–Matthew 18:29 (ESV)
Using the same basic math as above, this is how I estimated $6,400:
1 denarius = one day’s wage
1 day’s wage = $64 (8 hours at $8 per hour)
$64 per day x 100 days= $6,400
Once again, the exact dollar amounts may be off, but the ratio is correct. The man had just been forgiven a debt 390,000 times greater than the one he was demanding.
Jesus knew how to make a point. If someone owed me $6,400 I would be very worried about it. But if I had just been forgiven $2.5 billion, I hope I would be compassionate. Sure, someone may have mistreated me. I may have been wronged tremendously. It may be a big deal. I may have every right to be unforgiving, but…
When I compare it to the sum of every sin I’ve committed…
When I compare it to the punishment I deserve from God…
When I compare it to the sin debt that I no longer owe…