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The Christian Experience of Forgiveness

20/01/2021

Christians are FORGIVEN

Matthew 18:21-35

For Christians, the appreciation and reception of Christ’s sacrificial love, will have a profound effect on our lives. We ought to begin to love others as Christ has loved us, and to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us! This is truly the meaning of Our Lord’s command in His model prayer, when he told us to pray. And forgive us our sins: for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. Luke 11:4

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  1. The Lesson Jesus Taught!

In Matthew’s Gospel. Peter came to Jesus and asked how often we should forgive A BROTHER who sins against us. This passage is about the Christian’s attitude to their brethren in Christ. If they sin against us, should we forgive them seven times? Jesus replied, “No, nearer 490 times!” He then began to teach them in a parable. Jesus summed this parable up by saying, likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.  Matthew 18:35  

What lessons can we learn from the story of the Unforgiving Servant

  1. Lessons About God and Us!

Firstly, we learn lessons about the relationship between Almighty God and US sinners. We are in deeply in debt to God! The servant owed the King 10,000 talents.   The man’s debt could never, ever be paid off! He was well and truly bankrupt! We are in such deep debt to God! Our burden of debt is so great that we can never pay it off in a whole life of work! But why are we in debt to God in the first place? We owe much to Him.

  • Because He Created Us! We owe our very existence to God! There is no such tiling as a self-made man! We are what we are because God has been gracious to us! Psalm 100:3. God made us what we are! 
  • Because we rejected Him! God made us for the express purpose of living in an obedient, God-honouring relationship with Him. But by our sinful human nature, which we inherited from Adam, we do not glorify Him, we are in fact in enmity to God! God has shown us love, but we show little love! God has shown us justice, and we show little justice to others. God has shown us mercy. What mercy do we show to others? As sinners we continually put ourselves first, before God, and that is certainly sin! Every time we sin, we become more and more in debt to God.
  • Because we are Condemned Before Him! We are unable to pay our debt to God. Like the wicked servant, our burden is too great for us to bear, but it is more than we could ever pay. To be in monetary debt, is an awful experience. To have your possessions taken away by the bailiff, to be declared bankrupt, to have the stigma of financial penury is an awful humiliating experience. To be in constant, unpayable debt to God is much worse.

Yet there is today, the prospect of having all the debt that we owe to God totally cleared! It is possible to be totally free of the burden of sin and indebtedness to God!

  • Consider the nature of the king in this story, for it tells us much about the nature of God! God is a king who takes account of his servants, He is a king who rules justly, but he is also a king who is loving and forgiving and compassionate. He is utterly consumed with love and kindness, so much so that He forgives enormous debts!
  • Consider the need of the servant in the story. The wicked servant realised that his case was entirely hopeless. He knew that he was due to give an account of his debts before his master. His king would one day be his judge! See what he did. He went to the king, he dropped to his knees in humility, he admitted his great need, he pleaded for help! And look what happened next. The King was moved with compassion. He released him! He forgave him all that debt! Don’t you see the application of Jesus’ story for us? All this debt of sin can be forgiven when we admit our need and in humility cry out to the Lord for forgiveness and salvation!

3. Lessons about Us and Others!

But the second point of this story is that when we are forgiven by God we must forgive our brethren also! Peter’s concern is about forgiving a brother, a fellow disciple, and the question is asked specifically in the context of the church! Peter was being VERY generous! He was willing to forgive a brother in the Lord as much as seven times! That’s not at all bad! Today, some of us will not even forgive a sinning brother or sister once! Peter was more merciful, and more big-hearted than most of us! Yet it was not enough! Christ’s answer demands UNLIMITED FORGIVENESS!

Now, I must lay down a qualification here. Jesus is NOT saying that offences against the law, beneficial for the good order of society, crimes against humanity, are to be passed over, ignored or to go unpunished. He does not mean that people should be allowed to commit theft, or to assault others or to murder with impunity. All that He means here is that we are to show a general spirit of forgiveness towards our brethren. In that context, real Christian forgiveness knows no limits and no restrictions!

© BobMcEvoy 2018

From → Matthew

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