Summary: We are to (1) forgive because we’ve been forgiven by God, (2) forgive without limits, and (3) forgive and be blessed.
Jesus lived a life that is more people-centered than task-oriented. He did finished his task, but He was known more for His compassion, mercy and grace.
This month, we’re going to look at His teachings about forgiveness - a message which very necessary today - at the personal level, in the family, as well as national level.
READ Matt 18:21-35
Has forgiveness becomes something we claim but fail to proclaim in our living?
If we are honest, there are times when we find ourselves behaving like that unforgiving servant. We are pleased with the idea of a forgiving God - we being the recipients - but when it requires us to change our lives, and be the forgiving ones, it is not that easy.
( 1 ) FORGIVE BECAUSE YOU’RE FORGIVEN
The thing that stands out from the words of Jesus and His story is this - forgiveness is EXPECTED from us. Nothing was mentioned about the debt - how did it happened, or why... What was stressed was that we are to forgive BECAUSE WE ARE FORGIVEN!
This EXPECTATION was there because of something that happened before - someone has forgiven us. This first experience we had is important, because my forgiving others flows from there.
This parable is a picture of us. Jesus is here holding up a mirror for us to see ourselves - we are the ’servant’ who has been forgiven - forgiven much - a staggering amount (about $10million) of money - and God is that great King who has forgiven us.
At first the king ordered that justice be carried out and that the man, his wife and children, and all that he had be sold, as was possible in those days. Even then it would be far, far short of the amount of this debt.
In desperation the man makes an impossible promise. He falls on his knees and says to the king, "Have patience, sir, and I will pay you everything." Now he could never do that. If he worked all his lifetime, and his family also, he would never be able to pay $10million.
But in desperation he cries out, and the king’s heart is moved by the man’s impossible situation, and, out of pity toward him, he forgives him - at staggering cost to himself. Allowing it to go unpaid, he is impoverishing his treasury - it means, actually that this king assumed the debt himself. It is not a small matter.
We are this ’servant’ - we owe God a staggering amount we couldn’t pay. Yet one day we heard from the King, "Forgiven, in Christ’s Name!" The debt was wiped away. In one moment it was gone. We were freed from the burden. Completely freed!
AND WHEN THIS MAN WENT OUT, he met a man who owed him $20 - who said exactly the same words the first man had said just a few moments before, "Have patience with me and I’ll pay you everything," - but he was thrown into prison.
And that’s who we are, when we refuse to forgive another. No matter how bad it may appear to us, no matter how hurt we are by what someone has done to us, in comparison to what God has forgiven us, it is like comparing $20 to $10 million of debt.
What Jesus is saying here is this: Our experience of forgiveness should change us into forgiving people. As the king said to this servant, "You wicked servant! Should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?"
This expectation is there because it is reasonable; it is possible. Because this vast and staggering debt against us has been wiped out by the grace of God, we have the capability of forgiving also.
When the Scriptures tell us to forgive others, it is given always in the context of our receiving from God His forgiveness. There is a direct connection between forgiving others and being forgiven. Therefore, in the Lord’s Prayer we pray, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
The EXPECTATION was there because this servant was FIRST forgiven. God’s forgiveness for us ENABLES us to forgive. If you can’t forgive, then the reason is you’ve yet to FULLY COMPREHEND & EXPERIENCE the forgiveness of God.
We may not be able to expect that from someone who is not a Christian.
The same reason why we are told to love our enemies - we love because He first loves us! We must first receive from God His forgiveness, His grace, and then we’ll find the ability to forgive others and love them. The resource comes from Him.
Now to what extent?
( 2 ) FORGIVE WITHOUT LIMITS (JUST AS WE NEED HIS FORGIVENESS)
And these two scenarios occurs simultaneously in our lives today...