Summary: This study looks at the incredible depth of God’s forgiveness and also His requirement for us to forgive.
God’s Forgives. God Requires Forgiveness.
One of the greatest challenges to human nature is the issue of forgiveness. Those who can’t forgive themselves are filled with guilt and despair, and those who won’t forgive others are filled with anger and bitterness. The most miserable people are the people who never let go of their bitterness. Have you ever met an old bitter man or woman? They can’t enjoy life and those who love them can’t enjoy them. Bitterness builds a barrier that keeps them caged in and the rest of the world closed out. The bitter person will cling to a hurt from the past and will never let go of it even though they know it is destroying them. To various degrees, we all struggle with bitterness. When we cling to anger, we punish those that hurt us, and we destroy ourselves. We through a pity party that only we can attend. They are not hurt by our bitterness, but we also become isolated and lonely. Our fleshly nature always seeks what will destroy us, but God’s commands always restore what the flesh erodes. Let’s look at the Bible’s message of forgiveness.
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
26 "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ’Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
27 "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ’Pay me what you owe!’
29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ’Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
30 "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
31 "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ’You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 ’Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
34 "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
Forgiveness is a Need
The debt cannot be paid. Jesus used the illustration of a destitute servant in debt to a powerful and wealthy master. The servant could only go into debt, yet his desire was to pay off the debt. His intentions were completely impossible. He was not a wage earner, he was a bondservant. Jesus intentionally used the most humble class of citizen to illustrate the point that earning forgiveness is utterly impossible. Look closely at the illustrations Jesus used. The story begins by a servant giving an account for his debt. The record was read in his presence and he owed 10,000 talents to his master. To put this into perspective, 1 talent is approximately 200 pounds of gold. 10,000 talents equals two million pounds of gold and would be worth $8,467,200,000 on today’s market (that is almost 8.5 billion dollars). A good days wage was would be 1 denarii. A denarii was .1375 ounces of silver or the equivalent of 62 cents of silver. A servant would doubtfully get that much. The master ordered the man and his wife and children sold into slavery to pay off the debt. If that isn’t hopeless enough, compare the ancient daily wage to today’s. Their average daily wage was 62 cents. The national average annual income in America in 1999 was $30,500 or $173 a day. If you put the days wage 2,000 years ago on an even scale today, the equal debt this servant owed would be $1,600,300,800,000 in today’s dollar value. That is over 1 ½ trillion dollars in debt.