Summary: The cost to not forgive your brother is too high.
THE HIGH COST OF UNFORGIVENESS
* Several years ago, we were looking to buy a new car. When I found the car I wanted, I discovered it cost more than I could afford. Most of us have a limit to what we can or will pay for an item.
* Jesus clearly illustrated the “high cost” principle in Matthew 18. Basically, His message is this; “the cost of unforgiveness is higher than you really want to pay.” Let’s read and work through this story and pull out some important principle which will serve as a motivation to avoid the “High Cost” of unforgiveness. (Let’s read).
* Reading about the disciples is fascinating. It is obvious that 2 or 3 of the 12 had more engaging personalities than the rest. Peter, James, and John are considered the “A” team. If you closely follow James and John you may discover that they were dreamers. In Mark 10 they came to Jesus and ask about their positions in “glory.” They were dreaming about what was “yet to come.” However, Peter was a pragmatist of the most recognizable kind.
* In context of our scripture, Jesus just gave the teaching about restoring a brother and Peter immediately follows with the question of “Just exactly how many times am I supposed to forgive a brother?” Tradition had taught him to forgive 3 times, so he thought he was giving huge grace by following with the question, “7 times?” In fact, he possibly expected a pat on the back but instead, Jesus gave a new and different perspective about forgiveness which probably blew Peter’s mind. How can anyone keep up with 70 times 7? Not only they “couldn’t”, but the clear message was they “shouldn’t”. After this, Jesus tells a story which can be summarized in 4 words. Consider these;
1. Enormity – We find several enormous parts of this story.
a. Of the Debt – Jesus said that the servant owed his master 10,000 talents. Now the talent was the largest denomination of currency in the Greco-Roman monetary system and ten thousand was beyond belief. One translation says “millions” of dollars, while another says, “several millions” of dollars, while another says, “several billion” dollars. The point is that this debt was not going to get paid as the servant could not find a “job” which would allow him to pay this debt.
b. Of the release – As was legal, the master could have had the servant detained until the payment of the debt. Sadly, the master could have had the servant’s entire household (I.E. wife, kids, possessions) sold.
* This was a common practice. He could have also simply thrown the man into debtor’s prison. Yet, the master had compassion and “released” the man. This was enormous because the life of the servant was basically over until this release came.
c. Of the forgiveness – Make no mistake and do not attempt to “super-spiritualize” this truth; the bigger the offense, the greater the forgiveness required. This may not be something we like to admit, but it is a truth which we must understand. There is a different level of forgiveness required for the $1 debt verses the $1M debt. The master held the note on a bill with no possibility to be paid and he canceled the debt & totally forgave the servant. Can you imagine the stir this caused?
2. Absurdity – All of us know what absurdity is. It contains of thought of being ridiculous, irrational, or illogical. This is exactly what is seen next.
a. With His Attitude – The forgiven servant went out and “FOUND”, that is “after searching he found”, someone who owed HIM a fraction of the money which he had just been forgiven. Understand the first debt was “millions of dollars” while this debt might have been several thousand dollars. It takes little imagination to believe this man left the presence of His master to go and SEEK OUT one who owed him, by comparison, little.
b. With His Reaction – He grabbed the debtor by the throat and threatened to kill him. Think about this; not too many hours earlier HE was the one needing mercy, he was the one needing grace, and now he was acting as if all he wanted was justice.
c. With His Unforgiveness – Notice that the fellow servant used the same appeal which was used on the master. But no amount of begging could penetrate the calloused this calloused heart. How absurd is it to be the recipient of God’s grace and not grant just a small portion of that same grace to others.
3. Penalty – Numbers tell us this; “Be sure your sins will find you out.”
a. Your Reputation – Friends and acquaintance always see our behavior and are upset by ungodly behavior toward others. Reputation is hard to gain and easy to lose.