The Unforgiving Servant
When Nathan and I got married we thought we were making a wise choice, and purchased a townhouse. We searched and searched until we found one that fit us well, and in those first years of marriage we really made it our own. In 2009 we found out that our family would be growing as we were expecting a baby in May. So, we decided to start searching for a new place to live. Unfortunately, the housing market took a hit (a benefit for buyers) but we were stuck unable to sell our townhouse. We did what man other people were doing in our same situation and decided to rent it out. It was a far cry from an income property, but we saw it as a means to get into a home that we wanted.
Our first renter was a dream and everything we could ever have wanted–she was clean, communicated well–and most importantly PAID ON TIME! Unfortunately, when I was 8 months pregnant, she suddenly got relocated and had to move. We were in panic that we would not find someone to pay the rent on our townhouse and we would have a new baby and all the expenses that come along with that. We prayed and prayed that God would provide people to rent our townhouse–and quickly our prayers were answered.
We had a family who wanted to live in the school district where our townhouse was–and even better wanted to sign a 2 year lease! HOW PERFECT (we thought…) However, it became clear quite quickly that these would not be renters that could compare to the one we had previously. We received complaints about noise, dog waste, and often had late payments. Many would have said RUN FOR THE HILLS, but my husband being the man he is, tried to look at where they were coming from, and saw this as an opportunity to help a family out.
Now fast-forward–these renters ended up signing another 2 year lease. We still encountered problems, and late payments almost monthly, and still Nathan was gracious and kind. It wasn’t until I began to question why we still hadn’t received a payment for October when it was the 11 of November that I found out they had abandoned our property. Not only had they left it…they had ruined it. Our first home had been desecrated with broken cabinets, stained carpeting, missing fixtures, and filthy bathrooms.
I WAS IRATE! Here we had been patient, gracious, and forgiving, and I felt so used. I was bound and determined to get them to PAY! My anger boiled through me the more I thought about it, as my husband methodically handled the problem. I was praying for God to deal with me in my anger, and one day when we were leaving church, I felt as though I was being told, “Forgive them.” I was quickly reminded of the parable of the unforgiving servant whose large debt was forgiven, and then he turned around and would not forgive a small debt of another. Who was I to not be forgiving? How many times had my parents taken care of my debt? Surely there were other people that I was indebted to, and here I was being unforgiving. How was I showing love when Christ had paid the ultimate price for me?
Through much discussion we decided to continue to follow up with them about restitution payments, but to do so in a way that was honoring to God and continued to show love and compassion. We found ourselves having empathy for them as they had no home, no jobs, and no money. We occasionally would receive some money from them, but nothing that could come close to what we lost, but each time Nathan would respond with a ‘thank you for paying what you can.’
Just this week we received a large sum of restitution from them. I was floored. Here we had basically dropped the issue over 16 months ago, and this family continued to pay their debt.
God works in mysterious ways. We will not always see what he has in store for us. We may at times feel anger and rage at people–but what good does that do us? Peter asked Jesus in Matthew “Lord how many times should I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”Ask yourselves, “Who do I need to forgive?” Be shocked to see how God works in you when you do.
Katy Fedora, Hope Church member