Summary: Encouraging Sermon
The parable of the unmerciful servant is a classic biblical passage about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35)
Forgiveness is an act of compassion, love expressed when you are sinned against. This passage teaches us several things about the nature of love as we forgive others.
Forgiveness Cancels a Debt
In these verses, the practice of canceling a debt is a metaphor for practicing forgiveness. When there is a debt, someone must pay. Either the one who owes must pay it back, or the one who is owed must absorb the loss. Forgiveness requires something similar; either the one who has sinned must make ammends or the who has been sinned against must bear the pain and loss himself. The offense can’t be minimized or ignored. Suppose you borrow my car. When you return it, the wheel is flat. I can make you pay for the repair or I can pay for it myself. Either way, someone has to absorb the cost. We cannot pretend that the tire is not flat. If I choose to pay for it myself, I have forgiven you your debt: it is canceled. The person who forgives no longer expects to be repaid for what he has suffered.
Forgiveness is a Threefold Promise
When you forgive someone, you absorb the cost of the offense against you. You cancel the debt, and when you do, you make a three-fold promise. "I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you." The only reason to raise the offense with the offender id for the purpose of reconciliation, not revenge. "I will not bring it up to others in gossip, or low rate you beause of it." Appripriate counsel may help you ahndle an offense against you. But we so easily fall i nto gossip to place all the blame on the other person. "I will not bring it up to myself and dwell on this offense." I will not repay the videotape of your sin to savor every excruciating detail. Failure to forgive breaks these three ppromises. When we choose not to forgive, we choose to make the other person pay for what he or she has done.
Failure to Forgive Turns Victims into Victimizers
The servant in the parable did not forgive. Instead, he, "grabbed and choked" the one who owed him. (Matt 18:28). When we fail to forgive, we are active, not passive. We want to extract every penny until we are satisfied. It’s liek a creditor. When we owe a bill, after a while, the creditor may see that we are not gonna pay that bill in full.
Failure to Forgive Has an Eternal Cost
Practicing forgiveness is not easy, and it iis costly. But we also pay a price when we do not forgive. Bitterness destroys the hearts and relationships of those who refuse to forgive. Forgiveness is a spiritual matter. The failure to forgive ultimately costs you heaven itself! It reveals an unforgiving heart and an unforgiven heart.
Forvigeness Is an Event and a Process
Notice Peter’s question: "Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me" Up to 7 times?" Jesus answerd, "I tell you, not 7 times, but 77 times (Matt 18:21-22). When we forgive someone, it is an event: "I forgive you" But that is not the end of the mater. Everytime I rememebr the offense, I must continue to forgive. "I forgive you and will continue to forgive you. I will rememebr the threefold promise I made to you and to God: "I will not bring up this offense again or use it against you." , "I will not bring it up to others in gossip, or low rate you beause of it.", and "I will not bring it up to myself and dwell on this offense." I will not act on my sinful desire for revenge. yes, revenge is a sinful desire when you are sinend against. When you do not understand forgiveness as both an event and a process, discouragement and guilt can set in. This is because your decision to forgive may not immediately heal the hurt, lack of trust, and anger you have towards the person you have forgiven. But if you see forgiveness both as an event and a process, the discouragement and guilt are minimized. You know you have forgiven, even though you are also aware of yoru temptation to make the person pay for your offense. This awareness keeps you vigilant against sin in your own heart. It leads you to God for His cleansing and strength when you struggle with your attitude towards the person.
Forgiveness Is Not Forgetting
The Bible is realistic about forgiveness. it does not imply that if you forgive someone, you will forget his or her sin against you. That is unbiblical. Many people cite Jeremiah 31:34 and conclude that since God forgets my sins he forgives me. I must forget the sins that others have commited against me. Jeremiah 31:34 says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will rememebr their sins no more." But the omniscient God does not have amnesia when it comes to our sins. The word "remember" in this pasage does not refer to "memory" but to "covenant". A covenant is a promise. When God forgives our sins, he makes a promise not to treat you as your sins deserve. He chooses to absorb the cost himself in the person and work of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.