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Matthew 18:23-35

The Day of Reckoning

I hadn't been looking forward to the day of reckoning. I owed the King a very large sum of money and had expected more time to repay it, but when a King calls in his debts you don't have a lot of choice. I managed to scrape the money together by selling some of the livestock and borrowing from my uncle. At least I was better off than Enoch down the street - money ran through his fingers like water. He owed the King far more than I did and appeared not to have saved anything towards the repayment.

On the big day, I was directly behind Enoch in the queue. I wasn't entirely surprised when he came up with nothing but excuses - or when the King ordered him and his family to be thrown into jail - or when Enoch fell on his knees and begged for mercy. What did surprise me - no, "surprise" is too feeble a word - what shook me to the core was that the King told him to forget it - the whole debt was cancelled just like that.

I wondered about trying the same trick myself but decided not to risk it. I tried to look cheerful as I handed over my hard-gathered cash and hurried out to find Enoch. We've never been close friends, but I felt pleased for him. He must have been worried sick at not having the money to repay his debt and now the burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He would be walking on air.

I found him sooner than I expected. He was only just round the corner and had his hands round the neck of one of the lesser servants. "I need more time," the servant choked out, "Have mercy". "No mercy," growled Enoch "I want my twenty quid and 1 want it now."

I couldn't bear to watch and turned away. As I sat slumped against the wall, the Lord Chamberlain came by. From my occasional dealings with him I knew him as a fair and honest man. He sat down with me and asked my problem. "I'm just down in the dumps," I told him. "I'll be all right in a minute". For a while we sat in silence. Then I blurted out, "I thought Kings were supposed to be wise and shrewd!"

"Careful," said the Chamberlain "You're talking to one of the Kings chief advisors. But if you mean the business with Enoch, the King wasn't fooled by his pleading. He knew Enoch would never get round to raising the money. There was only one hope for Enoch - to be given a clean slate and start again."

I said nothing. The Lord Chamberlain looked into my face. "There's something else, isn't there?" With a heavy heart I told him what I had seen. He sighed and rose to his feet. "For some people," he said, "even receiving full forgiveness is not enough to shake them from a life of greed."

Since then I have often wondered what the fate is of those who experience the King's magnanimous grace and allow it to wash over them without any effect on their lives.

The next time I visited Enoch his house was empty. I never saw him again.

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