Good morning. Bill and Jason started their messages with talking about characteristics of their fathers, and what their fathers passed on to them. So, now that it’s my turn to teach, I wanted to start with a story about what I learned from my father.
My dad was a servant. He was not one for formal teaching, and didn’t really give us kids much instruction, other than to correct us when we disobeyed, the example that he left me was that of a servant. He served the church every opportunity he could. Even to this day, he is at church as often as he can, serving, helping, doing. And as my father’s son, I’m sure that’s where I get my dedication to work… probably even my tendency to do work too much.
Jesus has been instructing His disciples in the characteristics of those who belong to God’s family. Like the characteristics our father’s passed on to us, Jesus has been helping his disciples know the characteristics He wants to see in His family… in His kids.
So, what have we seen so far?
Week 1 – Bill started us off talking about humility. If we want to be the greatest in God’s kingdom, it’s not going to be measured by a name, or how much you do for God, it’s going to be measured by how dependent and humble you are. Just like a little child is completely dependent on his parents, we need to become humble, even it takes extreme measures to kill pride (cut off your hand, gouge out your eye..)
Week 2 – Jason talked about how God is a pursuer. God pursues the lost. God pursued each and every one of us because He loves us and wanted each of us to know the great value He sees in us. That’s why he sent missionaries to your village, because He loves you. Part of being God’s family is acting like Him by pursuing the lost and letting him use you to reach other lost people.
Week 3 – Bill talked about how God loves redeeming relationships. As a pursuer He redeemed us from sin to fix our relationship with Him . But as his kids, He expects us to also be quick to fix our relationship with other members of His family. We need to reconcile our differences. We can’t just cover over our problems. The foundation for reconciliation is forgiveness.
As we wrap up this little series, the final characteristic Jesus teaches is forgiveness. If we understand how much we have been forgiven then we would forgive others.
How many times should we forgive?
Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
Jesus had just finished telling them that a characteristic of being part of God’s family and acting like our Father is to reconcile with our brother if he sins against us. You can’t reconcile without forgiveness. As Peter reflects on what Jesus was telling him, a question comes up in his mind. “But Lord, how many times do you expect us to forgive?” It was commonly taught that to forgive a person 3 times was enough. After that, it was not expected. So, in suggesting 7 times, Peter was trying to go above and beyond what the common teaching was.
Does your forgiveness have a “statute of limitation?” Is there a limit to how many times you will forgive someone for the same thing? What do people do to sin against you?
- Marriage-husbands drunkeness
- A child’s disobedience
- Someone breaking your trust by telling others something you shared with them – gossip
- Crabs in a bucket… tearing you down when you are doing well (like speaking in pidgin when you are supposed to be only English)
There is a difference between forgiveness and consequences. Sometimes there are consequences for our sins. When you steal, there is a consequence. When you cheat, there are consequences. If a child disobeys, he will be punished. But, forgiveness is different.
When Caleb was little, there were times when I would punish him for disobeying, but I didn’t forgive. And so the next time he did the same thing, I was mad and upset with him. I got to the place where I expected him to sin, and even wondered if he could change. Because I hadn’t forgiven him, I was holding it against him, just waiting for him to do it again. In my parenting of Caleb, God had to remind me of how He deals with us.
How does God deal with us when it comes to sin? How many times do you do the same sin over and over again?
- The sin that besets… weight told to lay aside in Hebrews 12
Yet he is so gracious and loving. He pursues us, He redeems us. He patiently waits for us to come back to Him.
How did God deal with Israel? How many times did they rebel against him? Over and over. The whole book of judges. He did punish them, but He always forgave them, and when they repented, He redeemed them.
Matthew 18:22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
There is no limit to God’s forgiveness of us! He has modelled that to us in how He dealt with His children, as a nation, and how He deals with us, His family of faith. Now as His kids, He is telling us, that this should be a part of who we are too!
To illustrate how much we have been forgiven, and what it should mean to us, Jesus tells a story.
Matthew 18:23-25 23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
Have you ever been in debt? Have you taken a dinau that was more than what you could repay? How does it make you feel? Often dinaus destroy relationships. In this story, this servant had borrowed, or taken dinaus from the king. But, it wasn’t just a small amount that he could repay over several fortnights. No, he had taken so many dinaus, there was no way he would ever be able to pay them back.
It’s hard to imagine how much money this guy owed the King. It’s more than he could ever repay in his lifetime. This servant could not make enough money to pay the king back. As a result, it was a custom at that time, that a person could be sold as a slave, to pay for a debt. But, in this case, his debt was so big, not only was the king demanding the servant be sold, but also his wife, and his children to be sold as slaves. And he demanded that the man sell everything he owned and give every last toea to the king to pay the debt.
This would still not repay what the servant owed!
Matthew 18:26-27 26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
Wow, can you imagine! If you owed someone so much that you knew there was no way you would ever be able to pay them back and they just forgave it, wouldn’t you be incredibly thankful! This man was looking at becoming a slave. He was facing the fact that himself, his wife, and his children would all be sold as slaves because of the choices he made to go into so much debt! And now, it was gone. The hevi was over. The king had pity on him and released him from the entire debt!
The king could have said, “Well, pay what you can.” So he would get some of it back. He could have said, “give me 20% of your earnings for the next 10 years.” He could have made him pay off some. But no, he released him of the entire debt!
How would you feel if that happened to you?
Oh man, I would be so happy. I’d go home, hug my wife, and throw a party! I would be so thankful that my debt was forgiven!
But, what did this guy do?
How much have you been forgiven?
Matthew 18:28-30 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
Can you imagine someone doing this? What kind of person would do this?
What would you think of someone who acted like this?
I don’t want you to miss the picture Jesus is painting here. This is the picture of unforgiveness.
What have you been forgiven? What is the debt that you owed?
Rom 6:23 the wages of sin is death!
Rom 3:10 There is none righteous, NOT EVEN ONE
Rom 3:12 We have all turned away, no one does good, not a single one!
We owe a debt we can never pay!
What did God do with that debt? God actually did more than the king in this passage. He didn’t just forgive the debt, God paid the debt we owed!
2 Cor 5:21 “God made Jesus, the one who had no sin, to be the offering for our sin!” (God paid our debt with the life of his only son! (John 3:16)) “so that we could be made right with God through Christ!”
We owed a debt we could never pay!
Jesus paid a debt He did not owe!
Now, God is calling us, as His kids, to act the same way he does! Just as God has forgiven you, He is calling you to forgive your brother! (Eph 4:32, Col 3:13)
How many times? Every time!
Matthew 18:31-33 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?
Does God’s forgiveness of you affect how you forgive others?
In Luke chapter 7 Luke describes a time when Jesus was having a meal in the house of a Pharisee by the name of Simon. While there, a prostitute entered the house, and fell at Jesus feet weeping. She was so overwhelmed, as her tears fell on Jesus feet, she tried to wipe them away with her hair. She then kissed Jesus feet and poured a very expensive bottle of perfume on his feet as an offering of gratitude.
Simon was embarrassed, and questioned Jesus, “Don’t you know what kind of woman this is?” Jesus replied to Simon with a similar story as we have here.
Luke 7:41-47 “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver* to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
How much have you been forgiven? We started by saying, “If we understand how much we have been forgiven then we would forgive others.” Jesus is telling us that because our Father is a forgiver, then we should be forgiving people also.
What do you do instead of forgive?
But, what do we often do instead of forgiving?
- We hold on to offenses, and we don’t let them go
- We get upset when someone does / says something we don’t like
- Have you had people go through and slash your bananas, or cut down your buai trees.
- Instead of forgiving, we retaliate and try to get even!
Why don’t we forgive? It’s because we don’t truly understand what we have been forgiven! If we did, we’d be like the prostitute who wept at Jesus feet, completely overwhelmed with love for Jesus because of His forgiveness.
Our Father is a forgiver! As His kids, we should also be ones who forgive! It’s displaying the love of God to forgive our brother.
Matt 18:34-35 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters* from your heart.”
We reveal the true condition of our hearts by the way we treat others. When our hearts are humble and repentant, we will gladly forgive our brothers. We must experience that forgiveness in our hearts so that it humbles us and makes us gentle and forgiving toward others. The servant in the parable did not have a deep experience of forgiveness and humility. He was simply glad to be “off the hook.” He had never really repented of his actions that caused his debt. The forgiven debt was no big deal to him. It didn’t humble him. Therefore, in the end he did not receive forgiveness.
Just to be clear, Jesus is not saying that, as believers, if we don’t forgive someone, that we can lose our salvation and God’s forgiveness of our sins. We know from many other places in God’s word that our salvation is based completely on Jesus death on our behalf. There is nothing we can do that can take that away.
How does God’s forgiveness of you affect your relationships with others?
What Jesus is talking about is our experience of His forgiveness and how it can affect our relationships. How does God’s forgiveness of you affect your relationships with others?
We started this study with Jesus describing the ones who will be greatest in His kingdom. The ones who become like a little child, humble and totally dependent on our Father will be the greatest in God’s kingdom. But, we need to be willing to go to extreme measures to eliminate pride in our lives. Where there is pride, there is also a lack of forgiveness of others.
- Humility enables us to forgive others. The true condition of our hearts is revealed by the way we treat others. When our hearts are humble and repentant, we will gladly forgive our brothers.
We also talked about how God pursues the lost and broken. He is quick to forgive those who are humble. When lost and broken people humbly admit their brokenness, then God can forgive. But if they remain proud, and don’t admit that they are broken, then God can’t forgive them. It’s not that He is not able. He is ready and waiting to forgive everyone who comes to him, but until we admit our brokenness, God can’t forgive.
- Our experience of God’s pursuit of us, and his forgiveness, motivates us to pursue others and forgive those who have wronged us.
As a pursuer He redeemed us from sin to fix our relationship with Him . But as his kids, He expects us to also be quick to fix our relationship with other members of His family. We need to reconcile our differences. We can’t just cover over our problems.
- The foundation for reconciliation is forgiveness.
God is calling us to be humble and to kill pride
God is calling us to pursue the lost and live attractive lives
God is calling us to redeem our relationships
God is calling us to forgive based on of our experience of God’s forgiveness of us
We reveal the true condition of our hearts by the way we treat others. When we don’t forgive, and we hold on to offenses and seek revenge it shows that we don’t really understand how much we have been forgiven. But when God’s forgiveness of us humbles us, it will motivate us to pursue the lost, redeem our relationships and forgive those who sin against us!
As God’s kids, may we be known as ones who forgive like He does!