Summary: This sermon is part of our Building Lasting Values discipleship series, and looks at the value of forgiveness. It looks at why we should forgive, the issue of resentment, what forgiveness doesn't do, and how to implement forgiveness in our lives.
Building Lasting Values
“The Value of Forgiveness”
The value of forgiveness is a topic I’ve talked on many times, and the points that I am going to share I’ve brought up before, and that’s because they haven’t changed, and this is definitely one of those values that we need a constant refresher on.
Today we’ll look at the story of the unforgiving servant, and we’ll also look at the story of Job, where we will see this value and these points at work. In fact, while working through these points again, I have found several areas in my life that definitely needed these reminders. Even this week I’ve had to use several of these points in my life and ministry.
Turn to Matthew 18:21-35
I have found that people have no problem with forgiveness as long as they are on the receiving end. Whenever we do wrong our desire is to be forgiven. But whenever we need to forgive others, that’s a whole another matter, because we’re not so quick to forgive, as we want to be forgiven.
It’s like when a newspaper finds itself making a mistake or wrongly reporting the facts, their retraction is buried somewhere in the back, while the story made the front page. And there have been some real classics.
One retraction read, “In last week’s issue a picture showed some very unusual oriental dishes that were enjoyed by a party of foreign exchange students. Mi Thi Thin is a foreign exchange student who was standing at the center of the picture. We incorrectly listed her name as one of the items on the menu. We regret this error.”
Another classic was, “In a recent article we referred to the chairman of Chrysler Corporation as Lee Iacacca. This is incorrect. His name is Lee Iacocca.”
What they were trying to do is to make right a wrong, and this is what we’re going to talk about today, and that is, the value of forgiveness in our series of building values that are going to last.
There is a basic fact of life, and that is, we’re going to be hurt by someone. There are things people said and have done, where the heartache, hurt, and memory are as fresh today as the day that it happened.
And while most everyone knows they need to forgive, forgiving others isn’t something that comes easily.
Now, there’s nothing complicated about forgiveness. It’s in the application that we find the difficulty. So, let’s begin.
Why Should We Forgive?
In Matthew 18, Jesus told a story of an unforgiving servant.
Read Matthew 18:21-35
Jesus gives three illustrations or reason why we are to forgive.
1. Because God Has Forgiven Us
Notice that the unforgiving servant had been forgiven by the king. In verse 32 the King said, “I forgave you all that debt because you begged Me.”
The reason we need to forgive others is because God has forgiven us. Therefore, because we have been forgiven by God we need to learn to forgive others.
The Apostle Paul said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)
When we remember just how much God has forgiven us, it should help us be more forgiving of others.
However, when we don’t feel forgiven, then we really have a hard time forgiving others. And that’s because if we don’t feel forgiven, we don’t want others to feel forgiven either. If we don’t feel the grace of God, then we’re not going to be gracious to others. If we don’t feel set free, then the last thing that we want to do is to help set others free. That is just a part of our sinful nature.
But when we live in the light of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness, realizing that God has forgiven us because of what Jesus Christ did upon the cross, then it makes it a whole lot easier to forgive others.
And the reality is that we will never forgive anybody more than what God has already forgiven us for. And so, we forgive because God has forgiven us.
2. Resentment Doesn’t Work
Notice in Jesus’ story that the unforgiving servant wasn’t very forgiving. He held the debt of the other person against him until every last penny had been paid, but such an unforgiving spirit only led him to his own prison sentence.
Resentment is no different, and it is very self-destructive. Resentment always hurts us more than the person we’re resenting.
Now, if anyone had a right to be resentful it would have been Job. He was a godly man, and didn’t do anything wrong, but in a single day he lost everything, both his wealth and his family, with the exception of his wife who told him to curse God and die. And then there were his three friends who told him that he was a sinner, and the proof was because of what was happening. If anyone had the right to be resentful it would have been this guy. But throughout his ordeal he revealed that resentment doesn’t work.