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Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast I am asking are you an injustice collector?
Several years ago, my wife and I invited a newly married Christian couple over to our home.
I have no idea what we are talking about. I vaguely remember it was about church — but this is important — it wasn’t anything serious. It was just a casual conversation. It wasn’t about anyone or anything.
Suddenly, the husband exploded in absolute rage. Anger poured out of him like hot lava.
We were shocked. His wife looked at him with her mouth wide open.
After things subsided a bit, I asked him why he was so upset by what we were talking about. He sheepishly looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said “I don’t know.”
Something in what we said triggered him. It could have been a single word or phrase. But whatever it was it unleashed a torrent of rage.
But it also told us something important. It told us there were deeper issues at work here, because the anger exceeded the incident.
When anger exceeds the incident, it tells you that the anger is actually about something else.
Jesus told a parable of a man with a similar problem and in some ways Christ was also talking about Gabriel Wortman.
People outside of Canada may have not heard of Gabriel Wortman or what happened in our country on April 18, 2020.
On that day, Wortman, who owned a denturist business in the small town of Portapique, Nova Scotia, went on a 13-hour killing spree murdering 22 people before dying in a stand-off with police at a gas station in a nearby community.
According to reports, Wortman was a wealthy man. He bought some old police cars, repainted them to look legit, dug up a real police uniform and went on his killing spree.
So what triggered the largest mass murder in Canadian history?
Well the RCMP referred to Wortman as an ‘injustice collector.’
An injustice collector is a person who collects and holds on to past grudges. But more than that they begin to find their identity in these past grievances, they roll in the mud of being a permanent victim. As they dwell on these past incidents, a person’s mind becomes twisted and everything that happens to them is perceived through this lens of personal rejection.
These injustices just keep piling up and up until something triggers the simmering anger into an outburst of rage.
An RCMP spokesperson said:
“Some recipients of his wrath of violence were targeted for perceived injustices of the past, others were reactive targets of his rage and others were random targets.”
We will probably never know all those past offences that Wortman was collecting, but there were some clues.
It apparently all started when Wortman got into a fight with his common-law wife at a party the two were attending. They returned home where Wortman assaulted and handcuffed her (fortunately she escaped and hid in the nearby woods), and then Wortman returned to the party and killed seven people.
And the rampage was on. So who were the others?
In 2015, Wortman lost a court battle with his uncle over a property in their hometown. Though the property was no longer owned by the uncle, Wortman went to the home, killed the new owner and burned the house to the ground.
During the 13-hour rampage, the police went to Wortman’s home, and they found a list of people Wortman wanted to kill. One man was absolutely shocked that he was on the list, but could only remember one encounter, when the man said he was not interested in selling his former police car and Wortman took that rejection so personally that he wanted to kill the man.
But Jesus was speaking about Gabriel Wortman and even our friend in his parable of the King in Matthew 18 who called for a financial accounting from his bureaucrats and discovered that one was short 10,000 talents.
It is difficult to determine how much 10,000 talents is worth in our modern currency because a talent was based on weight. But undoubtedly, 10,000 talents involved millions of dollars. The basic point is this, there was no possible way that the man could pay back the debt.
And when the servant pleaded for mercy after the king threatened to sell him and his family into slavery, the king relented, showed mercy, and completely forgave the man.
But then we are told what happened next:
28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ (Matthew 18:28)
Again, it is difficult to determine how much a 100 denarii is worth today. But according to Matthew 20:2, one denarius was considered payment for one day’s work, so a 100 denarii is the equivalent of three months work, a few thousand dollars in today’s money. It represents an amount that could be paid back over time.
But this verse also subtly tells us several things that were going on behind the scenes in this story.
First we have a hint how the servant lost the money. We see that the servant had lent the man 100 denarii and he hadn’t paid it back.
The servant was apparently using the king’s money for private business on the side with intent of paying the principle back. He loaned out money and pocketed the interest. But people were missing payments and dodging his phone calls. There may have been a few sure fire business ventures. A few bridges for sale in Brooklyn. Maybe he invested in a few too many Ponzi schemes. Maybe he bought shares in Enron.
What I am trying to say is that you don’t lose millions of dollars without lots of things going horribly wrong.
Secondly as we look closely as this verse we see that the servant had his hand around the other man’s neck. He was choking him. He was on the verge of killing the man who owed him a few thousand dollars.
This king’s servant was not choking this man over the few thousand dollars he owed but for the millions of dollars that had been lost.
It was an explosion of anger. He was a injustice collector. He was a grudge hoarder and all those past injustices were being poured on this one man. Even though the man said he would pay back the 100 denarii, he was sent to prison.
But the story doesn’t stop there.
The other servants were outraged and told the King what happened and this tells us one more thing — the man who owed the 100 denarii worked at the palace. At the very least he was a coworker, but possibly a friend.
We need to realize that it was Peter who first started this conversation because he had asked Jesus how many times, did he need to forgive his brother? We know Peter had brothers who he worked with him in the family fishing business. So he was undoubtedly talking about a very real issue, and so Jesus shared this story.
Now, there is an old saying that the saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from you enemies.
But after hearing the report what his servant had done, the king summoned him and said:
32 ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. (Matthew 18:32-34 NIV)
Because this man had dealt so brutally with his fellow servant the King turned him over to the torturers until he repaid what he owed.
There was no way, the man could ever repay the money, so this was basically a life sentence. But these were not your regular jailers, we are specifically told that they were torturers, men would torture this man in hideous ways until he died.
And from this parable, Jesus taught how we need to forgive, because if we don’t, then we won’t be forgiven by our Heavenly Father. We need to forgive those very real and hurtful grievances.
But here is my final point, when you don’t forgive you are turned over to the torturers as well, not in a physical sense, but in an emotional and spiritual sense.
When you don’t forgive, I believe Satan has the right to torment you.
There is an interesting passage in 2 Corinthians that explains this in more detail. In the passage Paul was referring to an incident in the Corinthian church, that he had referred to in his first letter to the Corinthians. The situation had been dealt with and the church had forgiven the man and the Apostle said in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 that he also needed to forgive lest Satan gained an advantage over Paul through his demonic devices.:
The word devices is the Greek word ‘noemata’. It is derived from the Greek word ‘nous’ which refers to mind — but when the ending is added making it ‘noemata’ it gives it the meaning of scheming and devious.
So how does Satan take advantage of us?
One of the best descriptions I have heard of this word is that it refers to “mind games”. When we don’t forgive we open ourselves up to spiritual attack. Satan has the legal right to attack you and can wreak havoc with your mind. He can play games with your thinking.
Everyone becomes your enemy, even your friends. The most innocent thing become offensive, like a guy not wanting to sell a car.
So is Satan playing games with your mind?
Are you an “injustice collector?”
Without a doubt terrible things can happen to us. There can be huge betrayals.
But it doesn’t matter how bad they were you need to forgive.
As you were listening to this podcast, were their people and incidents coming to your mind? If so, maybe the Holy Spirit was bringing them to your remembrance as a prompting to forgive.
Forgiveness is a choice. You choose to forgive. You choose to stop being an injustice collector.