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Jesus response to the first question – was interesting – He calls a child to Him – says

“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (, ESV)

He continues to teach heading in the direction of what I believe is one of the crucial elements of building solid lasting relationships – forgiveness.
Jesus said “if your brother/sister sins against you, go, have a conversation with them, Jesus continues to explain a method of reconciling relationships among followers of Jesus.
Now let’s not forget that the disciples were sinning against one another as they continue their debates regarding who is the greatest.
Peter asks the inevitable question – “How often do I forgive my brother who sins against me?” or the question behind the question – how often do I forgive these turkeys I’m hanging out with. 7 times?
That is the question, isn’t it? How many times do I forgive my wife, my husband, my boss, my children, my neighbor, my in-laws? How many times to I forgive that rude narcissus at work? How many times do I forgive ---- fill in the blank.
Maybe the question is better asked this way? What is the quota on grace? Is there a quota on grace?
How much am I willing to invest in the relationship? Forgiveness can be costly but it is the stuff of healthy relationships, healthy marriages, healthy families and healthy churches.
Here at CECC we have a high value on forgiveness because we believe that it is measure – an evidence of good fruit in a person’s life – we look to see if people are exhibiting a heart of forgiveness in their life – in the relationships they are engaged in and surrounded by –
Jesus understood that relationships grow when we let go of a hurt, a wound, or a critical remark.
Jesus answers Peter’s question 70 times 7.
Shock must have filled the air. 70 x’s 7 – really Jesus?
The rabbis taught that forgiving 3x’s was the proper number. Peter was asking Jesus about a generous number in his mind. He was more than doubling the cultural expectations regarding grace and forgiveness.
Is Jesus creating a new formula that we should adhere to? Should I start a notebook and keep track – absolutely not.
Jesus is using a typical rabbinic literary form know as Hyperbole – that is exaggerating to make their point – Jesus is simply saying
Don’t keep track, just keep forgiving.

Love “does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” (, HCSB)

The setting is October 2006, Lancaster Penna. The Amish school day is moving along – when all of a sudden – gun fire interrupted the peaceful sounds a fall day. When the police arrived they discovered 10 dead Amish schoolgirls, ages 6 to 13 and the shooter, Charles Carl Roberts IV, dead having committed suicide.
In the midst of their grief over this shocking loss, the Amish community didn’t cast blame, they didn’t point fingers, they didn’t hold a press conference with attorneys at their sides. Instead, they reached out with grace and compassion toward the killer’s family.
The afternoon of the shooting an Amish grandfather of one of the girls who was killed expressed forgiveness toward the killer, Charles Roberts. That same day Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family to comfort them in their sorrow and pain.
Later that week the Roberts family was invited to the funeral of one of the Amish girls who had been killed. And Amish mourners outnumbered the non-Amish at Charles Roberts’ funeral.
It’s ironic that the killer was tormented for nine years by the pre-mature death of his young daughter, who had lived only 20 minutes after her birth. He never forgave God for her death. He plotted revenge for years. Yet, after he cold-bloodedly shot 10 innocent Amish school girls, killing 5 the Amish almost immediately forgave him and showed compassion toward his family.
In the midst of horror and tragedy and unspeakable grief – the Amish chose to forgive -
Jesus continues to drive his point home in a parable – a parable is simply a story that is teaching a point the teacher is desiring to make, usually regarding a moral truth.
At the heart of this parable is man who had a major debt crisis. He owed the King a crazy some of money. He had no ability means to pay if off.
The day of reckoning finally arrived as the king called the note in.
The man fell on his face – begging for additional time to pay it back.
Jesus using hyperbole again expresses the debt in an unthinkable term, 10,000 talents – one talent alone was valued at 6,000 days were of wages – to grasp the debt I did some calculations – the Bureau of labor and statistics reports that the average hourly wage in US is $24.57 a hour – using that number I did some math –
In today’s dollars – this man owed the King

$ 11, 793, 600, 000

The King was wise and understood that there were not enough hours in the day for this man to earn the money possible to repay the debt.
What was the king to do?
The king does the unthinkable, the unfathomable – He forgives. In an astonishing act of mercy and grace the King pardoned the debt – every last penny relieved.
Jesus’ point is that this was an impossible debt to repay.
FYI: our debt because of sin, our rebellious acts against God is a debt that is impossible to pay off. It is debt beyond our comprehension to repay. Yet, Jesus pay our debt – God, in Christ, has forgiven us of our rebellion. We didn’t deserve forgiveness – yet God in His mercy and grace extended to us.
Jesus story didn’t end there. He continues that this man who was relieved of an impossible debt load is heading home when he runs into a man who owes about 3 months’ worth of wages or basically an insignificant amount compared to his debt. Yet this forgiven man refuses to forgive –
Before we jump to making too many judgements about this man, I need to ask – why is forgiving so hard? Why do we withhold forgiving others when we have been forgiven of vast amounts of indebtedness by God’s grace?
Forgiveness is not easy, I get that – but isn’t that the point.
Forgiveness is difficult at times – our past hurts, the wounds often become barriers to forgiveness. We hang on to those past wounds and allow them to hinder our relationships with God and others. We build walls to protect our feelings and emotions in an attempt to never be hurt again.
In so doing I have discovered that the weight and burden of all that pain, sorrow, anger turns toward bitterness and my heart becomes colder, more dull, literally hardened to people, hardened toward God – this creates in me I don’t give a dam attitude that fuels my stubborn pride and selfish attitude that leads away from those whom I love and who love me, especially God. These attitudes create barriers to healthy relationships, to deeper intimacy, to healthy joy filled life. Instead, in this moments we languish in dark places, heading deeper into depression for some, for others looking for answers in every place wrong place in an attempt to satisfy that hollow yeaning that is deep within us - drifting further away from God, our families, our friends,
But we are not without HOPE. For in the middle of that drift, that pain, that aguish Jesus is saying I Love You – I forgive YOU – come to me – allow me to help you remove these barriers – let me teach you how to forgive – It is a choice – to choose to forgive or not – you may not know how to forgive, you may not have the energy to forgive – you may be lacking a desire to forgive but choose to forgive anyway –
Tap into supernatural power of Holy Spirit – to break free from the prison of unforgiveness for in Jesus Christ there is new life, a new strength to change your life forever by choosing to forgive.
It may not be easy – indeed it is costly – It cost Jesus everything –
As Jesus Christ has forgiven us – He comes along aside us by His Spirit to help us extend the life renewing, life freeing forgiveness to others.
With God’s assistance, we can overcome our barriers, move beyond the hurts, the wounds and liberate our lives from unforgiveness.
Forgiveness will change you – set you free.
Matthew West – captures the heart of forgiveness in this song.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WLPKY7NX

Will you choose to forgive today? Allow the Holy Spirit to show you areas of unforgiveness and extend forgiveness to them today. It will change you.
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