Summary: This is a revamp of a 1997 message. Jesus shares with us insights as to how to become a forgiving person. I do not remember where I got the wording for the 5 point outline.
• A man lay on his deathbed, harassed by fear because he had harbored hatred against another. He sent for the individual with whom he had had disagreement years before; he then made overtures of peace. The two of them shook hands in friendship. But as the visitor left the room, the sick man roused himself and said, "Remember, if I get over this, the old quarrel stands."
• Did you heard about the elderly, single woman who pre-planned her funeral. The director was intrigued by the fact she chose 6 female pallbearers. Are you sure you want all women to carry your casket to the grave? He asked, "I’m positive, she responded, if those bozo men wouldn’t take me out when I was alive, I’m sure not going to let them take me out when I’m dead."
• Sounds kind of bitter.
• How many people’s lives have you seen destroyed because they were not willing to be a forgiving person? Some folks have experienced some terrible things at the hands of another person. Many times those terrible things come from the very people who are supposed to love and protect us.
• Sometimes we are not willing to forgive a person over some of the smallest offenses.
• How does a person who has been abused by another person ever forgive them? I was listening to a friend of two of the Washington D.C. area sniper victims on television the other night. How does a person who has lost friends and family members at the hand of another ever forgive them?
• Forgiveness is the most basic Christian quality. Without forgiveness, we wouldn’t have Christianity as we know it. Without forgiveness, we would all be doomed to hell, condemned sinners without hope of any kind. Knowing this, a proper understanding of forgiveness will transform our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves.
• What does the word “forgive” mean? The meaning of the word "forgiveness" is: to dismiss, to release, to leave or abandon. We hear of a judge that has "dismissed" the charges against a defendant. That person is then forgiven of any wrong doing. We hear of a person that is released from an obligation, such as a loan or debt. That person is then forgiven. The word forgiveness also has the meaning to restore someone back to their original condition. The person who has been forgiven of a sin then restored to the condition of not having sinned: the sin has been dismissed and he has been released from any penalty. The case against him has been abandoned or dismissed.
• Forgiving people can be one of the toughest things that Christ commands us to do, but it is something that we are commanded to do.
• In the passage today I hope to give you some practical steps that will help make it easier for you to be a forgiving person. It is easy to carry a grudge against a person, but if we belong to Christ, then we will learn to be a forgiving person.
• If you are struggling with being able to forgive people, you really need to listen today. God’s word can help you overcome this issue.
A forgiving person will:
I. SET NO LIMITS ON FORGIVING (21-22)
• Peter starts off this discussion by asking Jesus a question. Jesus has just spoken to the group about disciplining a brother who has gone astray. Now after listening to this, Peter wants to know something about forgiveness.
• Peter is wonderful to have around because he is not afraid to ask the questions that others are too afraid to ask.
• READ VERSES 21-22
• To understand just how generous Peter is being on this issue we need to know that the Jewish people felt that God only wanted them to forgive a person 3 times. They got this thought from the book of Amos. In the first chapter, God was pronouncing judgments against the neighboring nations of Israel. He said He would revoke His punishment against them for three transgressions, but not four. The religious teachers wrongly interpreted this to mean they only had to forgive a person three times.
• Now here is Peter, willing to go what he thinks is the extra mile and says “how about seven times”!
• Jesus responds to Peter by saying not just seven times but up to seventy times or seventy times seven.
• Jesus was not giving Peter a number to track, but a principle to follow.
• We are not supposed to set limits on how many times we are to forgive a person.
• We are supposed to forgive like Jesus has forgiven us! EPHESIANS 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”