Jesus’ Teaching on Forgiveness – Matt. 18:21-35
Aim: To help the people learn and apply the Biblical meaning of forgiveness in all of their relationships
Illustration:Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candor in television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, "What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me."
John Stott in The Contemporary Christian.
Explanation of the Aim: A good definition of forgiveness is to choose to let go of another’s wrong rather than giving them what they deserve. Someone else has said, “Forgiveness is choosing to let go of my desire to punish someone who has wronged me.”
Jesus said, “If you do not forgive your brother, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you.” We need to help the people learn how to put aside any feelings of anger, resentment or bitterness in order to practice forgiving the way Christ forgives us. Failure to forgive will inhibit our rich fellowship with the Lord as well as His empowerment in our lives.
(Matt. 18:21-35) Jesus taught Peter the importance of forgiveness in this passage so we all might learn how to overcome any hidden grudges in our minds.
When people truly appreciate how gracious the Lord has been in canceling our sinful debt through Christ’s pardon only then can we understand the reason for forgiving those who sin against us.
Failure to forgive another person from our heart is essential if we expect the Lord to continue to forgive us and remain in fellowship with Him.
Consider the dangers of failing to forgive other people.
Consider what would happen if God chose not to forgive us.
Christ describes in this passage the importance of forgiveness in all aspects of our relationships, ministries and attitudes.
Illustration:In his book. Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it." It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.
Consider how we can help people understand what they should do when they sin and how they should forgive others who sin against them.
When we pray the Lord’s prayer we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we also forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matt 6:8-12)
Ask the people what are some of the dangers of failing to forgive people who have hurt you?
What tends to happen to people who become resentful, bitter or easily annoyed? Why do you suppose that the Bible teaches us to forgive as we also have been forgiven through Christ? (Eph. 4:30,31)
How can grow in our ability to be merciful, gracious and forbearing of others?