Summary: How can I forgive others? 1) Remember the debt God has forgiven you. 2) Keep the sins of others in perspective. 3) Remember the high cost of unforgiveness.


MATTHEW 18: 21-35

1. Illus. of partial forgiveness (1001 Humorous Illus. #385

• “I’ll forgive him tonight, but if I don’t die before I wake up, he better look out in the morning!”

2. We are all a little like James, aren’t we? Full forgiveness is foreign to our natural inclinations. If you throw mud in my face, my natural instinct is not to forgive you, but rather to give you a face full of mud back!

3. Are you struggling with this issue of forgiveness? A spouse, co-worker, or fellow Christian has sinned against you. You want to forgive them, you really do. After all, you’re a Christian for heaven’s sake! But it’s so hard. Be of good cheer. Jesus shows us the way!

4. In our text, Peter asks what he believes to be a reasonable question about forgiveness. See vs 21-22. The Rabbis’ taught that a person was only obligated to forgive three times. Peter thought seven was hedging your bet well on the safe side. Can you imagine his surprise when Jesus said the standard for citizens of the Kingdom was unlimited forgiveness?

5. In this parable, Jesus tells His listeners that those who have experienced the forgiveness of God can learn to extend that same forgiveness to others.

6. Today: In spite of our human nature, you and I can learn to extend true forgiveness to those who sin against us.

7. How could we possible learn to do something so against human nature? Jesus gives us three principles.


1. See vss 23-27

2. This servant owed his master 10,000 talents. To give you an idea about what an enormous sum this was, the total income of all Galilee was only about 3000 talents a year. A talent was between 60-80 pounds, and it was a unit of measurement for precious metals like gold and silver. Can you imagine what 10,000 talents were worth? It was a debt so enormous that this servant could never hope to repay it. When he pled for mercy, this King just forgave his debt.

3. What is Jesus saying here? Each of us is just like that servant. We owed God a tremendous sin-debt we could never hope to take care of. But when we came to Him through His Son Jesus and asked for mercy, He wiped out the debt. He totally and completely forgave us for everything we had ever done or ever would do!

4. One of the keys to being able to forgive others is to remember the great debt that God had to forgive us!

5. Illus. of Frank Sinatra

• A native of little place called Hoboken New Jersey

• Left there to become world famous singer and actor, a man who made millions, a man whose face and voice was recognized around the world, a man who knew kings and queens and presidents on a first name basis.

• Would often go back to Hoboken and eat in tiny restaurants, would walk the streets talking to old friends, would go back to the section of town where he was born.

• When asked why, in an interview not too long before his death, he said it was so that he would never forget where he came from!

6. When believers struggle with forgiving others, quite often its because they forgot where they came from! Don’t ever forget that you are nothing but a filthy sinner forgiven by the amazing grace of God!

7. Are you having a hard time forgiving someone? Take a moment and reflect on the tremendous debt that Jesus Christ has already forgiven you. Remember every lie, every deceit, every selfish act, every evil thought, and then remember how He put each one under His blood. Then turn anew to the task of forgiving others!


1. See vss 28-30

2. A denarii was a days wages for a common laborer. A hundred denarii would be about a third of a year’s wages, a pretty serious debt. But when you compared it to the debt that the first servant had just been forgiven of, it was a trifling sum hardly even worth mentioning.

3. Do you see what had happened? This first servant had lost perspective. In his mind, this second servant’s sin had become much worse than it really was. As a matter of fact, he had so blown it out of proportion that he felt justified in sending this second servant to debtor’s prison, even though he himself had just been forgiven a debt about 6000 times greater!

4. We sometimes struggle with forgiveness because we lose perspective. Our offenses, no matter how great, become small and trivial, while the offenses of others, no matter how small, become large and crucial.

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