Or paying it back.
In recent years we have from time-to-time had news reports of banks setting aside funds to cover debts that have to be written off. Debts being written off happened in Jesus’ time too, mostly in jubilee years. We hear of it at other times, most notably in The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant . In those days there is no evidence of money being set aside to cover writing off of bad debt.
The parabable, as they all are, is of course a fictional story to make a point or illustrate a truth. I wonder though if, in this instance, in the modern world the point becomes somewhat lost.
The parable tells of two servants. The first owes money to his master or king and the second owes a smaller sum to the first servant, who we might therefore reasonably assume is of higher rank than the second.
We are told that the first servant owed his master 10,000 talents, a huge sum (equating to thousands if not millions of pounds/dollars et-al today) that he would have no prospect of ever repaying. The second servant owed the first 100 denarii, a trifling sum compared to the first servant’s debt.
The king or master forgives the debt of the first servant but that servant does not in turn forgive the debt of the second. The first servant had the second thrown into prison for his debt.
The first servant’s debt was probably an exaggeration to make a point, but does the exaggeration detract from the point? With such an immense amount of money, the master must have known the servant would have no prospect of repaying it. So why had the servant had been lent so much at all?
The danger is that by focussing on such a large sum of debt, some of the point of the parable becomes ‘watered down’. Today’s generation may well focus more on the money than the hypocritical actions of the servant. Particularly taking into account the ease with which credit (and debt relief) seems to be available today.