“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt…” (Matthew 18:23-27)
Archimandrite Aimilianos makes interesting use of Christ’s Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35) to see himself as he is: a sinner. He says our experience of God’s holiness and glory helps us understand what it is to be human gifted with a good place in God’s created universe. When he applies Christ’s parable to his own life, he is able to see what kind of person he is.
“Seeing and feeling the holiness and glory of God, I begin to understand the nature of my own nakedness and nothingness. I understand that I am a sinner—that I am nobody, nothing, mere dust and ashes (Genesis 18.27) —and thus I fall down at the feet of Christ, and that falling down will be the expression and confession of my nothingness. It is the vision of the glory of God, in other words, which enables me to see myself, to recognize my true self and to gain practical, experiential knowledge of myself.
For example, let’s say that I’ve offended one of you. But you remain calm, and when I see your graciousness, and how readily you overlook my bad behavior, and how quick you are to forgive me, then I say: ‘What a rude and insensitive man I am!’ When I see that you’ve forgiven my debt of 10,000 talents (c.f. Matthew 18.24), then I’ll say: ‘What sort of person am I, who won’t even give 5 denarii to someone else?’
In the face of God’s glory and holiness, I acquire empirical, experiential knowledge of myself.” (THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT, p 25)
The spiritual experiences we have of God, God’s love and forgiveness, or the forgiveness from anyone we know, open our eyes, hearts and minds not only to God, and to the other, but also reveal to us our own faults and our need to be forgiven. Others don’t see me as sinless and faultless as I may see myself, so they help me to see me as I am, or perhaps as God sees me, not as I think I am.