Summary: When we are in the wrong we plead for grace and mercy ... when we've been wronged we cry out for justice. One of the hardest things in the world is for us to let go of the injustices and hurts that have been done to us - and yet this is the very thing we
Doing the Harder Thing - Matthew 18:21-35 - July 29, 2012
In one of his books Dr. Anthony Evans shares this story … One day, two monks were walking through the countryside. They were on their way to another village to help bring in the crops. As they walked, they spied an old woman sitting at the edge of a river. She was upset because there was no bridge, and she could not get across on her own. The first monk kindly offered, "We will carry you across if you would like." "Thank you," she said, gratefully accepting their help. So the two men joined hands, lifted her between them and carried her across the river. When they got to the other side, they set her down, and she went on her way.
After they had walked another mile or so, the second monk began to complain. "Look at my clothes," he said. "They are filthy from carrying that woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff." The first monk just smiled and nodded his head.
A few more miles up the road, the second monk griped again, "My back is hurting me so badly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river! I cannot go any farther because of the pain."
The first monk looked down at his partner, now lying on the ground, moaning. "Have you wondered why I am not complaining?" he asked. "Your back hurts because you are still carrying the woman. But I set her down five miles ago." (Dr. Anthony T. Evans, Guiding Your Family In A Misguided World, Illustrations, www.sermoncentral.com)
And friends, this morning, I wonder how many of us are still carrying burdens we should have set down years ago? Hurts and wounds that have cut us deeply but which we have never found healing for?
Last week we looked at the story of the paralyzed man whose friends tore up the roof to get him to Jesus. We heard how Jesus forgave this man’s sins and then asked a question of all those who had gathered in that place, saying, “Which is harder? To tell this man that his sins are forgiven, or to tell him to get up, take his mat, and go home?” The harder thing was to tell the man to get up and walk because the evidence would be plain for all to see. But I think for many who worship in our churches today that the harder thing is not to minister and tend to those who are physically hurting, it’s to forgive the one who has wronged us, the one who has brought pain and hurt and turmoil into our lives. So this morning I want to talk with you about doing the harder thing, and forgiving those who have hurt us deeply. Open your Bibles with me please to the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 18, beginning in verse 21 …
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”” (Matthew 18:21–35, NIV84)