Summary: One of the biggest dangers to our spoiritual life is unforgiveness. This sermon sets forth the truth that forgiveness is not an option.
Our Life - in Danger
“Forgiveness is not an option”
Someone once said that life would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with other people. Because we are not perfect, and no one else is perfect either, there will be conflicts, disagreements, misunderstandings and problems.
Once a relationship problem is fixed however, another one is just around the corner. A pastor who did a lot of counseling was once asked what he was going to do when he retired. He said that he was going to become a funeral director - that way when he fixed someone, they would stay that way.
Dealing with other people is something that we will always have to do. Other people can and will hurt us, sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes with malicious intent. If we are not careful, we can allow a hurt or an offense to take root within our heart. A bitter root of resentment can wrap itself around our heart. It can strangle and steal our joy, strength and our very life. Whoever said that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me - lied. Both hurt and leave wounds that cause scars. Bruises will heal, but words can devastate us for life. Words can repeatedly stab at our hearts for years, or even a lifetime as we hear them echo in our minds. What do we do when people hurt us and cause pain?
As our foundational series continues to be built, we have laid the cornerstone, which is Jesus in our first message entitled, “Our New Life.” Our second message dealt with the Bible as our Book for Life. Last week we looked at the Holy Spirit as the Power for Life. Without the Spirit’s filling, we are totally incapable of living a victorious Christian life. This morning, I want to have use understand a major danger to our life – that of unforgiveness. As we listen to Jesus and apply scripture to our life, we must understand that forgiveness is not an option.
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" 22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 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."
How many times must we forgive?
When Peter asked Jesus if seven was a good number of times to offer forgiveness, he thought that was a terrific number. In his mind (typical human nature speaking), that number seemed very generous and benevolent. The problem though is that our sinful nature takes over after about 4 times of offering forgiveness, and instead of focusing on reconciliation, we turn to retaliation. In other words, if our goal is to forgive a set number of times, like seven, after about four, we start thinking of how we will level punishment, or how we will get even. We might even think, after four, I will help you with the next three, because then the boom is going to fall. Then it will be my turn to get even.
Jesus however responds with a number that blew Peter out of the water. Jesus said that we are to forgive not seven times, but - 77 times, or also translated, 70 times seven. Think with me for just a moment what Jesus was really saying. 70x7 = 490 times. A 16 hour day x 60 minutes = 960 minutes. If we are to forgive 490 times in a day, we are to forgive roughly every 2 minutes all day long. Just like breathing – in and out – which we do naturally and without thinking, so we are to forgive the same way. An offense comes in; we are to give out forgiveness. Forgiveness is to be our natural response as a Christian.