Summary: We think that we can approach forgiveness with some half-measures that look pretty good to us. Jesus sets a standard that is incredibly high, but one that He has already met.
Passage: Matthew 18:21-35
Intro: Few things we can do will have such a powerful impact on our lives.
1. this is an area where the battle will rage with great force, because of what is at stake.
2. there is something about holding grudges that fills a great need in us.
3. there are few thing as satisfying as nursing bitterness over a clear undeserved wrong committed against me.
Il) Heinrich Heine quote (“The Standard of Grace, sermon by Brian Bill)
4. every person here this morning over 8 years old knows what I am talking about.
5. people have hurt us, sinned against us, sometimes in terrible ways.
6. and our flesh, our sinful nature, will nurse that wound and cause it to fester and rot until we are imprisoned by it.
7. but it will always give a sense of perverse satisfaction; the knowledge that I have the right to be angry and to take revenge.
8. not surprisingly, God has a better plan; one that will release us from this prison of bitterness and let us know real peace. Here are the steps we need to take.
I. Don’t Be Satisfied with Half-Measures
1. the “then” in V 21 here connects this event with the one before.
2. Peter is now exploring the limits of grace
3. in true Jewish fashion, he is trying to find how many times he needs to extend grace before he can withdraw it.
4. and the # he came up with, 7, was really quite generous, because 3 times was considered normal.
5. Jesus response was stunning. Greek a little strange, but the idea is limitless.
6. and if we doubt that, the following parable will convince us.
7. let’s clarify something here.
8. the forgiveness we are talking about here is not the same as what God provides.
PP Mark 2:7
9. only God forgives sins absolutely, because He is the righteous one whose laws have been broken.
10. but when we are called to forgive, it is to give up our right to take vengeance.
Il) Lewis Smedes quote from Jim Butcher sermon
11. very clear, and about to come clearer, that the expectation of God is that we will mirror His infinitely gracious character when we forgive.
12. and while God’s forgiveness is based on Him satisfying His own righteousness, ours is one unrighteous person forgiving another
13. for us, there are no requirements to be satisfied, no removal of punishment.
12. be forewarned!! The flesh will resist forgiveness because it gives up my rights.
13. and it will excuse and justify the unforgiving attitude, negotiate something less.
14. and if we count toward some #, we are not forgiving.
Il) whoever counts has not forgiven at all, but is only biding his or her time.” Boring
15. so what is next step?
II. Comprehend the Amazing Grace of God
1. the master in this parable is clearly God, and He is administering a business process.
2. going thru the books, man is brought who owes a ton of money.
3. 10,000 talents, what does this mean?
4. in our money, maybe a billion dollars.
5. but looking at time is more helpful.
PP 1 talent = 6000 denarii
1 denarii=one day’s wages
6 day week, 312 days per year, 312 denarii per year.
60,000,000 denarii @ 312 per year = 192,307 years to pay off the debt.
And this is without other living expenses, without interest.
6. sell him, wife, kids, possessions in v25= maybe get 3-4 talents for the family.
7. talk about being underwater, this guys situation is hopeless! Promise is completely empty in v26
8. but look at v27! The master took pity, absorbed the debt (since it was owed to him)and set the servant free of the obligation to satisfy the debt.
9. interesting that the word “let him go” is the same as “forgive”
10. he was released from all financial obligations, any fear of punishment, of losing his family and his home. All forgiven without cost to him.
11. the Master satisfied Himself, and that is exactly what God has done for us.
PP 1 John 4:10 “propitiation!”
12. now I have said there was no financial obligation, but that doesn’t mean there was not an obligation that went along with this forgiveness.
13. the greatness of this gracious act reveals a character to be followed, an act to be duplicated by those who have received such amazing grace.
III. Become a Funnel of God’s Grace to Others.
1. don’t know how this servant missed the grace of the Master, but he surely did.
2. because when he left, he went looking for a person who owed him money.
3. “found” implies looking.
4. and when he did, his flesh took over.