Matthew 18:24, 25 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
This story always gives me the giggles yet, I always find if intriguing whenever I read it. However, because of the two different units of currency used, many may not fully appreciate the stark contrast between the two debts owed in the parable. Thus, before anything else, let us present them in like terms:
In the setting of the parable, a denarius was the typical daily wage for a labourer. Thus, factoring in multiple holidays, a labourer would likely have worked 50 weeks of six days each over an entire year. That was equivalent to 300 denarii. So we can estimate how much the servant owed because 100 denarii was a third of the annual labourer’s wage. Now imagine working in that role for 20 years at end of which one would received 6000 denarii. For the servant owing 10000 talents, 20 years of work amounted to just 1 talent. It would therefore require 200000 years to pay back his debt.
So the words “be patient with me and I will pay you back” were actual folly. There was no chance for this servant to be able to pay back, at least not in the circumstances under which he lived. What has got me thinking is to ponder on the lifestyle of this servant. I keep on wondering how he was living to have been so successful in accruing the amount of debt he had. Just how did he do it?
But although money is used in the parable because of its tangibility, today’s parable extends to general decision making. In the aftermath, all the servant’s assets were to be sold and his entire family also sold as slaves in repayment. I actually wondered how much of the debt their sale would have covered. Beloved, decisions whether made or not made, could be so crucial that they can have consequences overreaching even the borders of the decision maker. Be mindful of such.