Inhale, Exhale

May 9, 2024 | Read Time: 3 mins

By: Rev. Mark Sorensen

I’ve heard the speech given many times, and if you’ve flown enough over the past decade or so, perhaps you have as well.

As the flight attendant goes over the in-flight instructions that would be beneficial for you to remember, they throw this advice into the preflight “things to know”:

In the event of an emergency, the oxygen masks will drop down. Remember, you should always fit your own mask around your face first before helping children, the disabled or any persons requiring assistance.

Can I be honest? This always feels counterintuitive.

Shouldn’t you help the one seated next to you who may be struggling and unable to do this on their own? The answer, of course, should be yes. But here’s the thing – you can only exhale what you inhale. The truth is, if you’re not taking oxygen into your lungs, you are not going to be a lot of help to anyone else around you.

I was thinking about this illustration when I was preaching a message to the Harvest community last Sunday in relationship to the theme of forgiveness.

In Matthew 18, Simon Peter asks Jesus how many times we’re supposed to forgive someone. “Seven times?” he asks. Jesus responds with, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Jesus would then go on to tell a story we know as the parable of the unmerciful servant. In the parable, a man owed his master 10,000 bags of gold (a modern-day equivalent of around $10 million). When the master came to collect, the man realized he had a debt that could never be repaid, and he begged the master for mercy. The Scriptures say that the master “took pity on him” and forgave the debt that was owed.

What a moment! Imagine having a $10 million debt just completely written off and zeroed out, paid in full.

As Jesus told this story, no doubt the disciples were thinking, “Now there is a lucky man. Surely, he will live differently because that debt had been paid.” However, Jesus wasn’t quite finished with the parable.

The man who was forgiven much had someone who owed him 100 silver coins (a modern-day equivalent of $17). So, he found the man, began to choke him and demanded that the debt be paid back. What’s ironic in the parable is though this one man found forgiveness and had his debt canceled out, he was not willing to do the same for someone else.

Jesus then steps out of the fictional story and says to Simon Peter, ”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

At the heart of the unmerciful servant parable is this: We must have a heart for God. To know God loved us enough that He would step off the throne and step into our story wrapped in flesh in the person of Jesus, and die a sinner’s death on the cross so that our own sins could be forgiven and washed away? That’s a debt we could never repay.

So, the challenge of this parable is this: Are we breathing this truth into our lives and are we exhaling that on those we meet?


Let this picture and card serve as a reminder that when we confess our sins before the Lord, God does not hold our offenses against us.

Take this truth in, remember, and then breathe that out as the Spirit leads.

In Jesus’ mighty name!