A People of Forgiveness
“A People of Forgiveness”
February 26, 2017
This morning, we are continuing our series, “Identity Crisis”. I believe the church had an Identity Crisis. We have forgotten who we are in Christ? Over the next several weeks, we are going to be reminded of, we are going to discover our identity in Christ. Last week, we talked about how we are a people of love. A huge part of our identity in Christ is love. Another huge part of our identity in Christ is forgiveness. Today, we are going to talk about how we are a people of forgiveness.
Illustration: Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a "light bulb" and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. You've probably guessed what happened by now; the poor young fellow dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. That's true forgiveness.
Today, we are going to talk about forgiveness.
v. 21 — We have a question from Peter to Jesus. The questions has to do with how many times we are to forgive. Peter is feeling pretty good about his question of forgiving someone seven times. After all, Jewish teachers in Jesus’ taught that a person should forgive three times. Rabbi Jose ben Jehuda said: ‘If a man commits an offense once, they forgive him; if he commits an offense a second time, they forgive him; if he commits an offense a third time, they forgive him; the fourth time they do not forgive. So, Peter is doubting the number and adding one more for just good measure.
Let’s look at Jesus’ answer in v. 22. Jesus says that we are to forgive 70 times 7 or 490 times. The emphasis here not on a number of time to forgive. The emphasis is on forgiving others without limit. Forgiveness can not be reduced to a number. Forgiveness can’t be reduced to mathematics. Forgiveness is not a matter of arithmetic but a matter of the heart.
To illustrate the importance of forgiveness, Jesus tells a story. Here are the players in the story. We are going to meet a compassionate king in this story. The king represents God. We are also going to read about a guy who owed the king a large sum of money. The guy represents each of us who have experienced salvation and forgiveness. Finally, we are going to ready about another guy who owed the first guy money. The other guy represents those who have wronged us or hurt us.
1. We are forgiven.
v. 24 — In verse 24, we are introduced a guy who owed the king a large sum of money: 10, 000 talents. 10,000 is the largest numeral in the Greek language. A talent was the largest sum of money in Jesus’ day.
You may be wandering, what is the equivalent of 10,000 talents today. The equivalent today would be as low as millions and as high as $9.2 billion. The point with the large number is that the amount owed to the king could never be repaid.
Application: Debt represents sin. Our sins are so great; our sins are beyond calculation. In our lifetime, we could never put a number on our sins. The number would be in the million or billions. Our sins are so great; our sin is beyond calculation.
v. 25 — We see judgement declared by the king. The guy who owed all that money would be sold into slavery along with his wife and children. Judgement is declared by the king.
Application: God has already declared the judgement of sin: eternal death and Hell. Most people today don’t believe in Hell. The Bible says that hell is real, and it’s not the place you want to spend eternity.
Illustration: Hotel in Centreville ( chalk outline, bought sheets, threw them away.
That’s Hell. Hell is not a place you want to spend eternity.
v. 26-27 —- The guy who owed the king money pleaded. Did you noticed that the guy pleaded for patience but received a pardon. The king had compassion on the man and cancelled the debt.
Application: Aren’t you glad that God is compassionate with us?
(NLT) The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
When we get our knees, and plead with God to save and forgive us. Our sin debt is just cancelled, but God paid our sin debt.
Jesus Paid It All Chorus:
Jesus paid it all, d
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
We are forgiven!!!!! Shout it with me.
2. We are to forgive.
We are forgiven; we are to forgive.
v. 28 — The seven who had been forgiven so much by the king left the king’s presence and found a man that owed him money. The amount owed was a 100 denarii. That would be the equivalent of about 3 months wages today. Three months wages is nothing compared to the millions or billions that the guy owed the king.
We would expect the guy to show mercy, to forgive the debt owed him. But that not what happens. (v. 30) He refused to forgive.
Application: We have been forgiven so much. How often to we refuse to forgive? When someone hurts us or wrong us, our hurt turns to anger. We become more and more bitter. We seek revenge or retaliation.
Illustration: Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson paid a $1000 fine for disputing a strike called by umpire Joe West. On the memo line of his check Dawson wrote: "Donation for the blind."
Most of you have heard of an evangelist named Dwight L. Moody. Dwight L. Moody was the counterpart of Billy Graham today. He was America's best-known evangelist. And, God gave Moody a great insight into The Word of God and into human nature. Dwight L. Moody said, "There's one sin, one failure, that's doing more to hold back the power of God in revival in the lives and hearts of Christians more than any other sin”. Do you know what he said it was?”"He said it was the sin of an unforgiving spirit. Z,
v. 35 — The point of this parable is to forgive.
(NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
We have been forgiven; we are to forgive. Forgiveness is a huge part of our identity in Christ.
Quote: Forgiveness reflects the highest human virtue, because it so clearly reflects the character of God. A person who forgives is a person who emulates godly character. Nothing so much demonstrates God’s love as His forgiveness.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, listen to he prayed about those who had tortured him and nailed him to the cross.
(NKJV) Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Jesus’ pattern must become our practice. We have been forgiven; we must forgive.
I understand that forgiveness is not easy. It’s a process. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do. It’s a matter of prayer. What did Jesus pray in the Model Prayer or Lord’s Prayer: Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. When we pray, God enables us to forgive.
Corrie Ten Boom is a woman whose testimony we've all heard. She hid the Jews in Holland from Hitler's storm troopers. As a result, she found herself in a Nazi concentration camp in Ravensbruck. Corrie Ten Boom and her sisters suffered unmentionable brutality, indignity, horrors, humiliation, and saw friends and loved ones die. But, by the grace of God, she was kept. A spirit of forgiveness was working in her heart.
In 1947, Corrie Ten Boom after the war was in West Germany. She was speaking on the subject of forgiveness, like I'm speaking on this morning. But, when she'd finished, there was a man in her audience who had been a prison guard in that concentration camp. The Spirit of God had convicted that man of his need for forgiveness. And, he came up to Corrie Ten Boom and when he approached, she looked at him. She remembered his face. It had been molded into her consciousness and riveted into her soul. That was the face of the one who had brutalized and humiliated and now he was coming with his hand extended asking for forgiveness. Corrie Ten Boom said, "I froze. I knew what I ought to do." But she said, "I knew I could not do it." She said, "It was like my hand was paralyzed. I could not reach out and take that man by the hand." She cried out to God and she said, "O God, I can't forgive him. But Lord, you can. Help me, God." By an act of her will she placed her hand in that man's hand. She said, "When I did that my body became warm and my spirit was filled with light as Almighty God did in her, through her, and for her what humanly she could not do.”
When we pray about forgiveness, God enables us to forgive.