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Friday, February 1, 2013

The Bad-Tipping Pastor and the Unmerciful Servant

The story of the bad-tipping pastor has been flying around the internets in the past couple of days.  You may have already seen it - but in case you haven't:

A St. Louis Pastor wrote a snarky message on her receipt at an Applebee's restaurant.  "I give God 10% Why do you get 18"  - in response to the restaurant's policy of automatically adding a gratuity of 18% for parties of 8 or more.  A photo of the receipt and the snarky question appeared on the internet and it wasn't long before the pastor's identity was discovered.  She then called Applebees to demand that the waitress who posted the picture to the web be fired.

In sharing this story on the Facebook, I commented that "the wrong person in this story was fired." Which in turn sparked a brief flurry of discussion among my friends - one of whom laid the challenge to me that in accusing the pastor of being graceless towards the waitress I am, in turn, being graceless towards the pastor.

And this may be true.

But I prefer to let the accusation stand as a contemporary enactment of Jesus' parable of the unmerciful (or ungrateful) servant.
 Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?"

Jesus said to him, "I don't tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him
 ten thousand talents.  But because he couldn't pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!' The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

"But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'

"So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you!' He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him in, and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. Shouldn't you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?' His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don't each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds."

I only suggested that the pastor should have been the one to be fired.  Jesus’ parable would seem to call for something much worse…

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