Westbrook Park United Methodist Church
- Forgiveness21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”forgive-to stop blaming or taking an offense into account. It means, at its best and easiest a very simple concept: to let go.22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.we argue about 49 or 490, then we go to infinity- and all of that is well and good but it misses the point. 7 was and is the number of completeness.So the message is, you should forgive to the point of completeness- forgive until it really is forgiven!23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.settle-to clear all obligations24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.owed- the person who has the obligation of paying a debt.ten thousand talents.One talent is equal to 6,000 denarii, which would take an ordinary laborer 6,000 days (16 years) to earn. Let’s convert that into US dollars; if an average day’s wages is assumed to be 100 dollars, it is around 600,000 dollars. Since one talent is such a large amount of money, how much is ten thousand talents, equivalent to about 60,000,000 denarii, worth?this is the offense, this is the breach in the relationship between the king and the man brought to him. Their relationship was in trouble because of this breach.It is a tremendous amount of money, which is worth about 160,000 years’ wages!25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’Because of the amount owed- this was ridiculous. He could never repay it.This is the request.27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.pity- to be affected deeply in one’s inner being, especially in that aspect characterized by sympathy and compassion.released- to set free, to release, to let go.forgive- to absolve from payment.This is the Release. The king released the man from his debt, which was so large he would never be able to repay it.28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’seized him- to have or hold in one’s hands or grip.choke- constrict someone’s throat and keep from breathing.hundred denarii- less than a hundred dollars, likely less than $50.This is the beginning of the New Offense. What you are about to see is the replay of whay you’ve already seen, but on a much smaller scale.29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’Notice how his debtor uses the same language he used with his master!!30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’Didn’t you learn the mercy I had on you for yourself.34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.This is the verdict.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”I want to remind you of five events in this story/parable:OffenseRequestReleaseNew OffenseVerdict/JudgmentForgiveness, in our society, is disappearing.We want justice more than we want righteousness. If that offends you, please listen a little while longer.I’m not going to make a case for forgiveness without justice. But our society has made a case for justice without forgiveness. Think about it.We’ve moved from seeking righteousness- living rightly- to seeking justice. And because we’ve left the personal righteousness piece out of the equation, our justice runs the risk of becoming sinful, tainted, or even vengeful. We’ve moved from focusing on our way of living to someone else’s, and that shift has inadvertently left our own spiritual state in jeopardy. Listen a little while longer.Why is forgiveness disappearing?Because we’ve lost the art of forgiving- but also because we’ve lost the art of receiving forgiveness.I think we’ve lost the gift of forgiving because sin is exponentially growing.Do you know this thing that Jesus said: In Matthew 24.1212 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.When I was a kid you knew your neighbors, the kids played outside all summer, you got home from school and ran outside and played until the street lights came on, and in the summer beyond that. You slept outside as a kid. You went to church camp or boy scout camp. Our doors were rarely locked- I don’t think we had a key to the house until I was over 18.Today we don’t neighbor, you rarely see kids outside playing beyond their front yard, never after dark- All youth camps are suspect- We bolt our doors and buy security cameras. Why?Turn on the news! Serial killers and rapists, crime everywhere, a lack of trust for government and institutions- it seems like crime is rampant.And I submit that is one of the reasons that forgiveness is so often not sought- we want justice- we want people to do the time because they did the crime. And we aren’t worried about rehabilitation any longer, we simply want the people to get what they deserve! In our eyes.It used to be that lawless people had a chance for rehabilitation- but today they are simply candidates for punishment.And that loss of love for humanity that is found in that mindset trickles down to our relationships- in our churches, in our employment, in our families.When somebody wrongs us, we want them to suffer- to pay for what they did. Instead of wanting them to experience forgiveness.And secondly, we are losing our ability to extend forgiveness. Our society has made it hard for us to forgive each other. We don’t forgive easily, regularly, and certainly not lavishly.Jesus began this parable by saying, The Kingdom of heaven is like this....so let’s take a second look at how the king forgives. We will look at verse 24 and verse 27 to do this.24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.The king had the man brought to him, and he named his debt to him.We will call this the “Confrontation of Truth”. You may wonder why this is important.Well, for some of us, we will shove wrongs under the carpet- we will act like nothing ever happened. For some of us, we will wrong people and expect that- as usual- they will allow us to plough them under and say nothing dutifully. And the king didn’t do that. He named the debt. And the debtor.Some of us wrongly believe that forgiveness can’t take place until the person who has done the wrong “asks” for forgiveness. Wrong again. Before this man ever appeared before the king, he knew he could never pay back his debt. Yes, he should have went to the king to work it out- but he didn’t. So how many weeks, months, years, decades did he spend avoiding that meeting with the king? We don’t confront wrongs well- that is, our own wrong. So the king had him brought.Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:23- If you are offereing your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, go to your brother first and be reconciled to him.... YOU GO!Unforgiveness wrecks all relationships.Let’s look at Matthew 18.2727 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.First- the king had pity for this man. Remember what this pity word meant in my first read through- t have compassion and sympathy in one’s inner being for the other person.If there is any place that any of us canb have sympathy and compassion for each other it is in the matter of sin. Wronging each other. We know how this feels.Secondly, the king whited out the books- he cancelled the debt . Make no mistake, forgiveness is costly. To cancel this debt, the King had to absorb the loss. Please absorb that thought. The king absorbed that loss, and in so doing he paid the debt for the persons wrong.If you and I are ever going to be able to forgive, it will be because we master and understanding of this and are able to implement it in our lives. Most of us can’t. When someone wrongs us, we don’t want to let someone off the hook for wronging us- we want to hold it over their head. We want justice as we see it. We want the wrong kept in our side of the acount to use when we find it convenient. the king released him.Thirdly, the king let him go. He released him.Many of us this morning will stumble on this point. Because we are crying for justice these days. And if we release the wrongdoer, justice isn’t served.But here’s the problem. If you can’t let the wrongdoer walk free, you won’t either. Your call for justice will stifle your ability to forgive, and it will warp the call for justice into a desire for revenge. And we all know it is so.So you have to let them go. You have to release them.IMPORTANT: It does not mean they don’t get justice- it just means that justice is not going to come from me/you. The government may bring it, the society may bring it, or the conscience of the individual may bring it. But the wronged person can’t. Anything more than forgiveness is a perpetuation of the problem. period.Please see, the purpose of this is reconciliation- to restore the relationship.Let’s review:Forgiveness:Confrontation of TruthCompassion with the Wrongdoer (identify with)Cancellation of DebtRelease (Let Go) the WrongdoerNotice, please, how Jesus ends this parable in Matthew 18.3535 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”The clear implication from Jesus is that our forgiveness of others is predicated on what God has already extended to us- His forgiveness.God forgives us. We forgive others. And this relationship is real, genuine- because it is from the heart. Relationships are restored.And all of this has to do with reconciliation- the restoration of relationships.And now, let me agitate you just a little farther. With my bottom line.God’s Forgiveness Is Extended With Transformation ExpectedIf All I want is to feel better about myself, I’ve completely misunderstood God’s forgiveness.The saddest realization of the parable today is this: The forgiveness of God to this man did not transform him at all.One of the greatest disappointments of God is when we claim to be Christian but do not act like it.This man had a debt forgiven that is monumentally, exponentially, and logically incomprehensible. It was more money than any of us today can ever imagine. It was lavish, expensive, and unbelievable. And welcome.But he could not forgive a debt that amounted to less than $50.You see the kings forgiveness, while welcome, had absolutely no change on who this man really was. Nothing had changed except his balance sheet.All of this chapter, Matthew 18, is about relationships. how to restore and reconcile with others. It’s about what healthy relationships are like.15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.We stop at the gentile and tax collector part- if we make it that far. But we don’t go all the way, which means we don’t ever seek the deep forgiveness and reconciliation that God wants for us;Christian relationships are marked strongly by a forgiving people. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.God’s love and mercy, his lavish forgiveness offered to us, should make us merciful. If it doesn’t , we probably never actually accepted his forgiveness in the first place- it didn’t transform our hearts.God’s Forgiveness Is Extended With Transformation ExpectedThe Key to forgiveness is the Cross.When this man went to his debtor and held his feet to the fire for his debt- he placed himself in the judgment seat. He became judge and jury in the life of his debtor.But when Jesus Christ came to earth, he stepped out of the judgment seat and placed himself in the place of grace. He is the king that became a servant.when we fail to forgive, we are servants who take the place of the king. When Jesus forgave us, he was the king who took the place of every servant.And because of the great , extravagant, costly, expensive grace that he brings to us- we are enabled to be transformed into the servant who can forgive from the transformed heart and reconcile and restore the relationship that has been broken.
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