Summary: God is interested in our ATTITUDES
Story: An atheist was sitting under a tree one day smugly thinking:
"God, I know you don't exist - but it you did - you must really be stupid.
You created a huge oak tree to carry this little acorn and such a puny plant to carry a marrow.
Now, if I had been you, I'd have created the oak tree to carry the marrow and the marrow plant to carry the acorn.
As he was reflecting on his wisdom, an acorn suddenly fell and hit him on the head.
Without thinking he exclaimed:
Thank God that wasn't a marrow!!
How often do we have the ATTITUDE that we know better than God?
Matthew 18 opens in verses 1-9 by talking about
1. The necessary attitude to get into the kingdom
Jesus said in verse 3:
..unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
Jesus then goes on to talk about
2. God’s attitude to us in verses 12-14
Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep to illustrate how God sees us before we are Christians
3. Last week our reading from Mt 18:15-20 was all about our attitude to conflict resolution in the Church
How are we meant to deal with conflicts with our brothers and sisters
4. And then finally in this week’s reading Mt 18 .21-35 Jesus speaks about forgiveness
Peter asked Jesus
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Peter thought he was being generous when he offered seven times
Jesus says no, seventy times seven. 490!
Pretty hard to find someone who needs forgiving more than that in any one day!
What does the word FORGIVENESS mean:
The Dictionary defines this as:
1. The State of being forgiven or
2. The Act of forgiving
The word "forgive" means
1. to pardon
2. to remit or let off a debt.
There are three aspects of forgiveness I want to look at
1. The State Of our sins being Forgiven.
2. The requirement however that we Forgive others.
3. The resultant healing and peace that forgiveness brings.
1. The State Of Our Sins Being Forgiven.
Man chose to go his own way and so SINNED.
The Scripture tells us that "the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus" (Rom 6:23).
Yet God has provided a way out.
God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life to take the penalty of the sin of the world on Himself.
Jesus died on the Cross for our sakes.
Eph. 1:7 In him we have redemption through his Blood the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God's Grace.
Jesus' blood was shed for your sin and mine.
God has forgiven us so much that this has to affect our relationship to others too
2. The Act of Forgiveness of other people's sin
God will not forgive when we do not forgive.
Jesus taught this principle very clearly in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt: 18:21-35)
1. The parable opens with a King deciding to settle accounts one day
He finds a servant of his with a debt that was simply unpayable
But the man falls down on his knees and begs for mercy
for in Jesus’ time, the whole family could be sold into slavery to pay debts of the father
2. The King has pity and so he decides to forgive him his debt in total
3. We then have a second scene where the servant who has just been let off a fortune finds another servant who owes him a few pounds
Like the first man, the other servant begs for mercy
But unlike the King, the first servant has none
3. We then move to the final scene in which the King finds out about the callous heart of the first servant who had been let off so much
So the King calls the unmerciful servant in and tells him that because he had received mercy he should have shown mercy.
But since he didn’t have mercy on the fellow servant so the King will not have mercy oin him now
In the same way, Jesus says, how we act reflects how God will deal with us.
Jesus’ teaching was revolutionary in its day
Because forgiving those who wrong you was contrary to the religious teaching of the Jews of His day
The Parable goes to the heart of the Christian message.
1. We are all breakers of God's law but Jesus came to take the penalty of our sins on himself. In mercy God lets us off.