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
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.
ignoring the effects of the wrongdoing.
Nothing that bad happened. It was only this one time. It won’t happen again.
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