Summary: God forgives and so do we ... we pray about this all the time so put it into practise.
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“Forgiven and Forgiving" – Lord’s Prayer Series
A sermon on Matthew 18:21-35
Has it ever struck you how often the disciple Peter over-estimates his ability to understand the ways of the Lord? Just think about it for a moment.
Who stepped out of the boat to walk to the Lord, only to sink into the sea? Peter.
To whom did Jesus say, `Get behind me Satan'? Peter.
Who said he would never deny Christ? Peter.
On so many occasions Peter just assumes far too much.
Let’s read about another time when Peter just gets it all wrong
Why is Peter sure that seven times a day is enough.
Well the spiritual leaders of Israel would not forgive a man when he came back a fourth time for forgiveness. So he goes to seven, nearly double. After all if you forgive too much people are just going to walk all over you, aren’t they.
But Jesus comes and He ups the anti … not seven times, but seventy seven times. Or, as your Bible footnote points out, it could also be translated “seventy times seven” which is 490 times. Either way the essence of Jesus’ answer is clear.
In Jesus’ worldview you can never forgive too often.
Which is hard isn’t it. Because the first thing we think is Yes BUT
Yes, BUT If someone is so bad that they sin against you 77 times a day … shouldn’t you try and straighten them out a bit first?
Yes BUT a person can’t be serious about their faith if they sin against you so much?
Yes BUT wouldn’t it be better to be tough and not forgive until they showed signs of change?
Yes, BUT if someone has sinned against you … don’t they have obligations as well?
Yes, BUT aren’t I just setting myself up to be continually hurt if I always forgive?
Yes, that might be what you think. BUT remember what we say in the Lord’s Prayer.
Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors (Mt.6:12)
And, just to be sure that we get it, Jesus in the same context gives us the reason why we should forgive.-
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 (Mt.6:14-15)
How many times shall I forgive my brother? This is not a simple academic question. It is a question that gets to the very heart of our understanding of the grace of the Lord in our own lives. It is also a question that has significant implications for our prayer life. Because
If we can’t forgive … something about our relationship to the Father is wrong.
How does Jesus show us this? It starts with a man who has an almost infinite debt … in monetary terms it is a debt of 10, 000 talents.
Is that a lot of money? Well a labourer, like a grape-picker, received 1 denarii for a day's work. It took 6000 denarii to make 1 talent … which means this servant has a debt of 60million denarii, or 60million days of work. That is about 165 000 years of non stop work. The payment for this huge debt is impossible.
But this is a parable. So the issue here is not about money – the issue here is the magnitude of our debt of sin.
Let’s think about it this way. Imagine 1 sin = 1 point. No matter how big or little that sin is. Now let’s conservatively say that we commit … what? … 5 sins a day. Is that a good guess Expand
Now let’s say the sin count starts for when you are 10 (even though many of our kids already have a good count) and we live to 80.
The sin total is 5x365x70
= 127,750 sin points
Now we start seeing a bit of a reality – and the reality only keeps getting bigger.
We are born in sin … that is how we start this life.
Our minds are tuned to sinning … we keep looking in its direction.
We are always tempted by it … everyday.
We often surrender to it … everyday.
We don’t often think about it this way but we have an infinite debt of sin.
This is not an exaggeration – this is the reality of sin in our lives. But the saddest fact of all is that this sin is directed against God. Every time we sin its as if we are throwing sand into the face of God and saying, “Your ways are not good enough for me. I have chosen to follow an alternative answer”.