Summary: What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the most basic Christian quality. Without forgiveness, we wouldn’t have Christianity as we know it. Without forgiveness, we would all be doomed to hell, condemned sinners without hope of any kind. Knowing this, a proper understanding of forgiveness
will transform our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves.
The meaning of the word "forgiveness" is: to dismiss, to release, to leave or abandon. We hear of a judge that has "dismissed" the charges against a defendant. That person is then forgiven of any wrong doing. We hear of a person that is released from an obligation, such as a loan or debt. That person is then forgiven. The word forgiveness also has the meaning to restore someone back to their original condition. The person who has been forgiven of a sin then restored to the condition of not having sinned: the sin has been dismissed and he has been released from any penalty. The case against him has been abandoned or dismissed.
Forgiving people can be one of the toughest things that Christ commands us to do, but it is something that we are commanded to do.
In the passage today I hope to give you some practical steps that will help make it easier for you to be a forgiving person. It is easy to carry a grudge against a person, but if we belong to Christ, then we will learn to be a forgiving person.
READ MATTHEW 18:21-35
In this passage Jesus teaches us to:
Set No Limits or Conditions (21-22)
1. Esau forgives Jacob. Genesis 33:4.
2. Joseph forgives his brothers. Genesis 50:15-21. Verse 20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
3. Jesus did not say to forgive them x amount of times if?
4. Luke 17:3-4 says,” Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. "And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ’I repent,’ forgive him."
Study the Debts You Owe (23-24)
1. 10,000 Talents was a lot of money.
2. This person may have been a government official who the King called in to settle the debt.
3. It helps us to be able to forgive if we know what we have been forgiven!
4. General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, "I never forgive and I never forget." To which Wesley responded, "Then Sir, I hope you never sin." Very apt, for when we reflect on how much God has forgiven us, it makes our own little grudges against others seem rather petty.
5. READ LUKE 7:36-41
6. The servant will soon forget the great debt of which he was forgiven. If we don’t think that we have needed forgiveness, it will cause us to be callous and hard hearted, as this person will turn out in the end.
Seek the Experience of Canceled Debts (25-27)
1. The Slave was not interested in trying to get his debt forgiven, he wanted more time so that he could figure out a way to take care of it himself.
2. If we don’t know what it feels like to be forgiven, then we will not want to let others feel that forgiveness.
3. Sen. Mark Hatfield recounts the following history: James Garfield was a lay preacher and principal of his denominational college. They say he was ambidextrous and could simultaneously write Greek, with one hand and Latin with the other.
4. In l880, he was elected president of the United States, but after only six months in office, he was shot in the back with a revolver. He never lost consciousness. At the hospital, the doctor probed the wound with his little finger to seek the bullet. He couldn’t find it, so he tried a silver-tipped probe. Still he couldn’t locate the bullet.
5. They took Garfield back to Washington, D.C. Despite the summer heat, they tried to keep him comfortable. He was growing very weak. Teams of doctors tried to locate the bullet, probing the wound over and over. In desperation they asked Alexander Graham Bell, who was working on a little device called the telephone, to see if he could locate the metal inside the president’s body. He came, he sought, and he too failed. The president hung on through July, through August, but in September he finally died-not from the wound, but from infection. The repeated probing, which the physicians thought would help the man, eventually ,killed him..
6. So it is with people who dwell too long on their sin and refuse to release it to God.
Shun the Practice of Extracting Debts (28-30)
1. For me to fail to forgive myself or anyone else who has offended me is to imply that I have a higher standard of forgiveness than God, because whatever it is that has so hurt me that I can’t forgive it, God already has. -- Dr. Hal Lindsay