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Summary: This is the 2nd in a two-part message on our responsibility to forgive based on God’s forgiveness of us. This part focuses on our forgiveness to others.

January 19, 2003 Matthew 18:28-35

¡§Forgive¡K¡¨

INTRODUCTION

Every now and then, Tammy will surprise me by using a new word that I would not expect her to use. She calls it her ¡§word for the day¡¨, and she¡¦ll find every situation possible to use it as often as she can for that day. She does this to increase her vocabulary and just to spice things up a little bit. This week, in my preparations for this morning, I ran across a word that would be good for each of us to add to our vocabulary so that we can use it often not only in our speech but in our relationships with other people. The word is "Magnanimous". To be magnanimous, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is to be "generous and gracious in forgiving an insult or harm done to [you]". As foreign as that word is to your vocabulary, that¡¦s how foreign the practice of forgiving those who have hurt or offended you in some way may be to your normal way of life. God wants that to change. He wants you to learn to make forgiveness your normal response to the hurts that other people bring into your life.

Last week, we began looking at a story that Jesus told to illustrate our responsibility to forgive. We examined the first part of the story, and we saw that it illustrates God¡¦s forgiveness toward us. We, because of our sin, owed a debt that we could never repay. But God, in His compassion toward us, did more than show leniency or patience. He gave us forgiveness. He forgave our entire debt.

This week, we are going to look at part 2 of that story. Part 2 is usually more difficult for us to handle because it deals with our forgiveness of other people in the things that they have done to us. ¡§To believe that God forgave me millennia ago, pardoning me in a broad theological sweep with billions of others, seems, for some reason, more reasonable than my granting forgiveness to someone who has wronged me.¡¨ But according to this passage that we will look at today and many other verses that we will consider, my forgiveness of others is not an option. It is a command.

In order to help us understand forgiveness, let me first share with you some things that forgiveness is not.

„h Denial

ignoring the effects of the wrongdoing.

„h Condoning

Nothing that bad happened. It was only this one time. It won’t happen again.

„h Excusing

„h Condemning

She/he deserves to know they have wronged me. ¡§The trouble with people forgiving and forgetting is that they keep reminding us they¡¦re doing it.¡¨ ¡V 14,000 quips and quotes compiled by E.C. McKenzie

„h Seeking Justice or Compensation

Forgiveness is not a quid pro quo deal--it doesn’t demand compensation first. ¡V the Forgiveness Institute

„h A sign of weakness

If it is a sign of weakness, then why in the world are we following Jesus? He must have been the weakest man who ever lived because as they were nailing Him to the tree, He cried out, ¡§Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.¡¨ (Luke 23:34)

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." -- Mahatma Gandhi

(Mat 6:12-15 NIV) Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

(Luke 6:37 NIV) "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

1. Examine the realities of the debt. ¡§a hundred denarii¡¨

„X Is it a real debt?

Just like we confuse wants and needs, we also confuse what is a real debt and what is something that should just be overlooked.

In the case of this servant, he owed a real debt. It was equivalent to what the average worker could make in 100 days. Think about your own salary. What do you make in 100 days? If someone owed you that much money, you would probably consider it a real debt that needed to be dealt with.

While tolerance makes allowances, forgiveness releases a legitimate debt.

{Tammy¡¦s experience yesterday}

Possible test of whether or not it is a legitimate debt. Their action that they committed against me ¡V was it also a sin against God?

„X How does their debt compare to the debt that you owed God? ¡§ten thousand talents¡¨ (vs.24)

One day when I was thinking about what was done to me, I thought about what was done to Christ. He was wronged and betrayed more than anyone else in the world. If anyone had the right to complain or hold a grudge, He was the one. Yet, He did not. We should follow His example.

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