Summary: Jesus teaches us to forgive others on the basis of His forgiveness ... out of grace & mercy ... not because they deserve it.
“Forgive One Another”
INTRODUCTION: Ephesians 4:31-32
Ephesians 4:31 - Last Sunday we looked at “bitterness” … WHY we are bitter … WHAT bitterness looks like … HOW to overcome bitterness.
TODAY we will look at one of the CAUSES of BITTERNESS. If we want to AVOID bitterness, it is essential that we learn how to FORGIVE. Ephesians 4:32 - Whenever someone hurts us, we choose to be either BITTER … or BETTER.
I. THE BASIS FOR FORGIVENESS
We have the idea that FORGIVENESS is accepting someone’s APOLOGY. Someone has WRONGED you … they APOLOGIZE … you ACCEPT their apology … they are FORGIVEN.
Like I mentioned last week, the word “apology” isn’t in the Bible. “Apologizing” isn’t a part of the forgiving process. It’s not a CONDITION for forgiveness.
We tend to put CONDITIONS on forgiveness. SOMETIMES, forgiveness IS conditional. John the Baptist preached a CONDITIONAL forgiveness - Mark 1:4 – “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” God looks for the fruit of repentance before He grants forgiveness of sins. If everybody was UNCONDITIONALLY forgiven, then everyone would go to Heaven … which we know is not the case.
Look at Ephesians 4:32 - “forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Paul isn’t talking about the TERMS of forgiveness here … conditional or un-conditional. Paul is talking about the ATTITUDE of forgiveness. We are to forgive others JUST LIKE Jesus has forgiven us.
We find this in the Lord’s Prayer – “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” JUST LIKE Jesus has forgiven you, so are you to forgive others.
SO .. the BASIS for our forgiving others, is on the BASIS that Jesus has forgiven you. On what BASIS did Jesus forgive you? He forgave you on the BASIS of His GRACE … on the BASIS of His LOVE … on the BASIS of MERCY.
II. THE EXAMPLE OF FORGIVENESS
Jesus gives us an illustration of how “forgiveness” works. It is a parable of contrast and comparison. Matthew 18:21-35 – all turn
18:21-22 – Peter must have had somebody offend him over and over again. Peter kept forgiving him … but he was getting tired of this man continually committing the same sin against him.
It’s 1 thing for someone to fool you once … or even twice. “Fool me once, shame on you … fool me twice, shame on me!” You can forgive someone who takes advantage of you (or lies, steals, cheats) once or twice. You can forgive them. But 7 TIMES? Peter thought he had gone above and beyond the call of forgiveness to forgive 7 times. He was proud of himself … he wanted Jesus to brag on him. Peter wanted to know if he had fulfilled his responsibility for forgiveness … he thought he had forgiven this jerk enough!
Jesus told Peter that he hadn’t even BEGUN to use up his allotment of forgiveness. “seventy times seven” … 490 … ACTUALLY, INDEFINITELY. By the time you forgive somebody for the same thing 20-30 times, you’ll lose count!
NOW, this doesn’t mean that it’s OK to let them keep cheating you over & over again. That’s not being “religious” … that’s being STUPID! What Jesus is telling us is that FORGIVENESS HAS NO LIMIT … it isn’t BASED on whether or not they DESERVE it … it’s BASED on the NEED for forgiveness.
Jesus gives a PARABLE to illustrate this.
18:23-24 – The King took an audit, and found 1 of His employees whose books were out of balance. 10,000 talents were missing. That’s a lot of money … a “talent” was 6,000 day’s wages … about 6 BILLION dollars. This businessman must have been in charge of a large government agency. LATER, we’ll see WHY Jesus uses such a large, astronomical figure.
18:25 – This amount was too much to pay back … IMPOSSIBLE to pay back all of it. In Bible times, a King could command that this man & his whole family be sold into slavery, and whatever he got for them would go towards paying his debt. If this were happen today, I’ll be there wouldn’t be as much credit card debt!
18:26 – The man gets down on his hands & knees and pleads with the King. He doesn’t ask that the debt be forgiven … only that he be given more time to see if he could come up with the money. Seeing the size of the debt, I’m not sure how he was going to do it.
18:27 – The King was full of mercy, and forgave the debt. This was MORE than the man had asked for (more time). The King went above & beyond … and set him free … no longer owing the money.