Summary: Forgiveness is characteristic of God that we need in our lives to be a free person.
FREE TO SET OTHERS FREE Matt 18:21-35
In our look through the Bible the one that we find is most like other humans is Peter. On many occasions, his desire to be spiritually tough and dependable surpassed his depth of his commitment. He often is shown as one who is weak spiritually than the other disciples. How would you like to be known as the one in this church who is weak spiritually? In our scripture today, we see Peter asking a question about forgiveness. One of the laws he had grown up with is that you need to forgive a person at least three times for an offence. Peter thought as he asked this question that if he went to seven he would be doing better than others of his time. Do you ever think you go beyond what is required and are a little better than those around you? As Peter waited for Jesus’ answer he might have been thinking, “He will probably pat me on the back and say you have really done good in this thought.” He was surprised at the answer he was to receive. We want to look at three elements of forgiveness today.
1. FORGIVENESS IS revealing. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked him, "Lord, how often do I have to forgive a believer who wrongs me? Seven times?" Jesus answered him, "I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seven.”
A. Forgiveness is not easy. If we are to forgive, it means we must be willing to wipe clean the wrong doing a person who has done to us and set them free. It means to go beyond the problem and to love that person as though they had done nothing wrong. We must remember that is God’s forgiveness to us is. “One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick. Suddenly, my daughter spoke up from her relaxed position in her seat. "Dad, I’m thinking of something." This announcement usually meant she had been pondering some fact for a while, and was now ready to expound all that her six-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear. "What are you thinking?" I asked. "The rain," she began, "is like sin, and the windshield wipers are like God wiping our sins away." After the chill bumps raced up my arms, I was able to respond. "That’s really good, Aspen." Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little girl take this revelation? So I asked... "Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?" Aspen didn’t hesitate one moment with her answer: "We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us." I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on. In order to see the rainbow, you must first endure the rain!” God is pure and holy way beyond what our minds can even imagine and yet He offers us forgiveness freely. What keeps you from forgiving?
B. God’s grace is shown in this story as Jesus states “the kingdom of heaven is like...” Jesus gave a staggering debt this man owed. In our money today, it might be equal to 12 million dollars. Jesus was making a point that our debt to God is totally, completely and beyond the reach of ever being repaid. This man realized that the king’s demand would mean he would loose everything including his family. He fell down before the king and asked for patience so he would have time to pay what he owed. We see the forgiveness of God in that this king not only had patience but cancelled the debt completely with no strings attached.
C. WE SEE THAT THIS FORGIVENESS WAS NOT BASED ON THE MAN HUMBLING HIMSELF AND NOT ON HIS ABILITY TO PAY THE DEBT.
What a great act of goodness this king freed this man of his debt by paying for it himself. It was no longer in the books and the man was completely free of ever having to pay it back. He was free to live with not having to think about this debt ever again. Jesus is telling Peter and us that when we stand before God there is no way we can pay for our debt of sin. Here is shown God’s limitless grace and our total unhappiness with out it.
Why do we have a problem with forgiveness when God makes it so clear? Forgiveness reveals where we are in Christ.
2. FORGIVENESS IS challenging. 25-30 “Because he could not pay off the debt, the master ordered him, his wife, his children, and all that he had to be sold to pay off the account. Then the servant fell at his master’s feet and said, ’Be patient with me, and I will repay everything.” "The master felt sorry for his servant, freed him, and canceled his debt. But when that servant went away, he found a servant who owed him hundreds of dollars. He grabbed the servant he found and began to choke him. ’Pay what you owe!’ he said. "Then that other servant fell at his feet and begged him, ’Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ But he refused. Instead, he turned away and had that servant put into prison until he would repay what he owed.