Summary: A look at five reasons why we don't want to forgive and four reasons why we must forgive. Unforgiveness blocks our prayers. Even confession is unavailing if we don't forgive.
LETTING GO OF UNFORGIVENESS
A. OPENING STORY
1. In New Hampshire, a man named Josh Muszynski stopped at a gas station and bought a pack of cigarettes with his debit card. A few hours later he was online checking his bank account and found that this particular pack of cigarettes set him back seventeen figures!
2. To be exact, it was 23 quadrillion, 148 trillion, 855 billion, 308 million, 184 thousand, 500 dollars. To put that in perspective: if you took ALL the money from ALL the countries in the United Nations, you still wouldn’t have enough money to buy that single pack of cigarettes.
3. Needless to say, Josh immediately called his bank and managed to clear things up. Not only did his bank correct the error, they also removed the $15 overdraft fee they charged him. (Patrick D. Odum, Heartlight.org 8/11/09)
4. The point is: if this man had actually owed that much money there was no way he (or anyone else on the face of the earth) could ever pay it back. This leads us to a parable of Jesus we’re reading this morning.
24A man who owed [a King] ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. 29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' 30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
I. THE TWO DEBTS CONTRASTED
A. THE GIGANTIC DEBT & ITS REDEMPTION
1. This is a “parable,” an “earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” The first man represents US. We owe the King [GOD] 10,000 talents (equal to 10,000 years of working).
2. In today’s terms the 10,000 talents could be as much as $5 billion! You could NEVER PAY IT OFF, and in fact…that was the point of Jesus’ parable.
3. The IMPOSSIBLE DEBT we owe & can’t repay represents the mountain of our sins, individually. Jesus paid the terrible price for your sins by dying “the death of the cross,” the worst form of punishment the world has ever known. Jesus died so our DEBT of sin could be forgiven. Romans 6:23 says, “… the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
4. This parable explains that the King had pity on this man and forgave him his entire debt. In the same way, when we became Christians, God forgives us ALL of our sins – they are moved as far as EAST is from WEST and buried in the depths of the sea. They don’t exist anymore (Praise God)!
B. THE TINY DEBT NOT FORGIVEN
1. In the 2nd part of Jesus’ parable, the man who was forgiven his massive debt starts home – rejoicing – and encounters a man who owes HIM a debt of $100. This is not a debt like the first – between God & man, but between two humans. It’s a wrong done by one person against another.
2. The 2nd man pleads for mercy, but the first man will NOT forgive him. The 1st man who’d received mercy for his mountain of sins refuses to show mercy to the man who had humanly wronged him. Why is Jesus telling this parable? To warn us that we must forgive others. Why do we struggle to forgive?
II. FIVE REASONS WHY PEOPLE DON’T FORGIVE
1. IT’S EASIER TO BLAME OTHERS. It’s not easy to own responsibility for our feelings, words or actions. We have the tendency to try to shift the blame.