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Forgiven First

Forgiveness  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:21
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Forgiving others is incredibly difficult. It becomes easier, however, when we realize that we have been forgiven first. Find out more in this week's message from Matthew 18:21-35

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Have you ever been hurt by anyone?
Intro
Intro
I could take you to the gym where I could show you the place I was threatenedHave you ever been hurt by anyone?
· Recap:
Recap:
Nature of parables
o Nature of parables
I know, it is a silly question. If you have lived very long, you have had someone who has hurt you. They have lied, they have disappointed you, they have intentionally done things to hurt you.
The Bible is
First two weeks – God scattering His Kingdom and seeking the lost
o First two weeks – God scattering His Kingdom and seeking the lost
o Last two weeks – Our response to the message of the Kingdom
Last two weeks – Our response to the message of the Kingdom
o This Week & Next – Living out the Kingdom lifestyle
This Week & Next – Living out the Kingdom lifestyle
We have all been hurt, so how does the Bible tell us we are supposed to handle that?
Final Week – The judgment of the King
o Final Week – The judgment of the King
As we will see over the next few weeks, God makes one thing painfully clear: we are called to forgive those who have hurt us.
This morning, I want us to see an especially crucial aspect of Kingdom living: the issue of forgiveness when wronged.
· This morning, I want us to see an especially crucial aspect of Kingdom living: the issue of forgiveness when wronged.
This is, quite possibly, one of the most difficult things you will be called to do as a believer.
We are going to take time to talk more about what forgiveness does and doesn’t mean in the weeks ahead, but I want us to start this morning with a clear understanding.
We are going to be starting our look at forgiveness by surveying a passage in .
Jesus has been telling parables, which are earthly stories that illustrate a spiritual reality.
This morning’s story has three main characters: a king and two different servants.
From this story, we are going to see that you are called to forgive because you have been forgiven.
As a side note, there is a saying in preaching: “Milk lots of cows, but churn your own butter” – I milked several cows to get the content for this message…
· “Milk lots of cows, but churn your own butter” – I milked several cows to get the content for this message…
· Let’s look at , starting with verse 21…
Let’s look at , starting with verse 21…
· I’m pretty sure that, as soon as I started, someone in this room immediately said in their heart, “Oh, I don’t need to hear this again.” Would you promise me that you will agree with God, and that you will respond to what He tells you through this?
I’m pretty sure that, as soon as I started, someone in this room immediately said in their heart, “Oh, I don’t need to hear this again.” Would you promise me that you will agree with God, and that you will respond to what He tells you through this?
· You may be confronted this morning with something ugly from your past that you thought you had forgotten about and were over—would you allow God to show you if there is any unforgiveness in your heart?
You may be confronted this morning with something ugly from your past that you thought you had forgotten about and were over—would you allow God to show you if there is any unforgiveness in your heart?
· Let’s stop and pray before we go any farther…
Let’s stop and pray before we go any farther…
· Although the moral is pretty clear, it is always important to look at the context of the story to get a clear picture.
Although the moral is pretty clear, it is always important to look at the context of the story to get a clear picture.
o Vv 21-22 – “Peter was being generous here, for the traditional Rabbinic teaching was that an offended person needed to forgive a brother only three times.”[i]
v 21-22“Peter was being generous here, for the traditional Rabbinic teaching was that an offended person needed to forgive a brother only three times.”[i]
o Jesus’ response would have floored him, and the picture He outlines is crystal clear.
Jesus’ response would have floored him, and the picture He outlines is crystal clear.
· I want you to see this morning that we must forgive freely, even when it is costly.
I want you to see this morning that we forgive because we have been forgiven.
God’s forgiveness forms the foundation for our forgiving others, so let’s see what this story shows us.
· Let’s look at this in greater detail:

1) God forgives most.

I) Forgiveness Is Costly
- For the one giving the forgiveness, forgiveness is very costly.
The master had called his servants together to settle his accounts with them.
Did you see just how deeply this servant had gotten into the hole? Look back at verse 24.
Let’s try to put some numbers to this. A talent was likely between 58-80 lbs of gold, so you’re talking 580,000-800,000 lbs of gold. At the close of the market on Friday, that would have equaled out to at least $11,179,152,000.
- For the master in the story, it cost 10,000 talents. A talent was likely between 58-80 lbs of gold, so you’re talking 580,000-800,000 lbs of gold. At the close of the market on Friday, that would have equaled out to at least $11,179,152,000.
For some perspective, according to Forbes.com, there are only 138 people in the world worth that much money.
In comparison, the other slave owed the first slave 100 denarii. A denarius is a day’s wage, so in today’s figures would have been about $6000.
- In comparison, the other slave owed the first slave 100 denarii. A denarius is a day’s wage, so in today’s figures would have been about $6000.
I want to be clear here, though: $6000 isn’t an insignificant amount. The second slave certainly owed a lot of money to the first, but it was insignificant when you compare it to the amount of money the first owed their master.
The master forgave a greater debt than this man could have paid back in lifetimes worth of work.
You and I have to understand that we owed a sin debt to God that we could never repay.
Romans 3:23 CSB
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
No matter how good you think you are, you have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
Let’s think about what the Bible describes as sin. When you look at what is classified as sin in the Bible, you see that it is anything that displeases God or goes against his will.
The most obvious form of sin is doing bad things. However, it is also sin when we don’t do good things that we are supposed to do.
Not only that, but we find Jesus telling us that sin starts in the heart and mind, so our thoughts and intentions can be sinful as well, even if we don’t act on them!
When I look at sin that way, I see that my life is full of sin. I have sinned and I continue to sin, and yet God, in his mercy and his grace, offers forgiveness!
Isn’t this what God has done for us?
- Isn’t this what God has done for us?
If you have come to Christ and trusted in his death, burial, and resurrection, then it is!
1 John 1:9 CSB
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." ()
How complete is that cleansing?
How complete is that cleansing?
- How complete is that cleansing?
Colossians 2:13–14 CSB
And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.
"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." ()
"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." ()
He erased our debt! It is gone; it is paid. If you have come to Christ, then God has completely forgiven everything you owed.
- He cancelled our debt.
He cancelled our debt.
Well, but couldn’t it come back up again?
Psalm 103:12 CSB
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
"As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." ()
"As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." ()
Remember what David said about his position after God forgave him?
- Remember what David said about his position after God forgave him?
Remember what David said about his position after God forgave him?
" How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!" ()
" How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!" ()
- As an aside maybe you are struggling with this reality this morning. Perhaps you, even as a believer, have sinned in such seemingly awful ways that you cannot imagine how God could love you and forgive you yet again.
This is an incredible promise, isn’t it?
God didn’t say that it was removed as far as the north from the south. Think about it: If you are standing at the North Pole and start walking, which direction are you going? South.
There can be a point where you start going the opposite direction.
But what about it you start walking east? Will you ever start going west again? No!
Perhaps you, even as a believer, have sinned in such seemingly awful ways that you cannot imagine how God could love you and forgive you yet again.
Psalm 103:13 CSB
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.
"Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." ()
"Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." ()
- He is not pleased when you sin, yet remember, He is the God of Lost Things, and just like that Father, He runs to you and restores you when you return.
He is not pleased when you sin, yet remember, He is the God of Lost Things, and just like that Father, He runs to you and restores you when you return.
That’s because it is all about grace!
- That’s because it is all about grace!
In light of God’s gracious forgiveness of us, how can we withhold forgiveness from anyone?
- In light of God’s gracious forgiveness of us, how can we withhold forgiveness from anyone?
Again, we aren’t saying that what they did wasn’t wrong or that it didn’t hurt; instead, we are saying that our sin was so much greater, and yet God forgave us, so we must forgive others.
This is costly, but in light of all God has forgiven us, it is worth cost.
- That doesn’t discount the reality of their sin against you. Remember, the second slave owed around $6000 to the first.
To understand the cost, we must understand what forgiveness is. By saying, “I forgive you,” you are saying:
- However,
However, God has
Forgiveness was costly to Christ, but it will also be costly for you.
- Forgiveness was costly to Christ, but it will also be costly for you.
- To understand the cost, we must understand what forgiveness is. By saying, “I forgive you,” you are saying:
To understand the cost, we must understand what forgiveness is. By saying, “I forgive you,” you are saying:
“I’ll not bring this matter up to you again;
o “I’ll not bring this matter up to you again;
o I’ll not bring it up to others;
I’ll not bring it up to others;
o I’ll not bring it up to myself (i.e., dwell on it in my mind)”[ii]
I’ll not bring it up to myself (i.e., dwell on it in my mind)”[ii]
When you choose to forgive, you are only taking the first step in the process. The length of time it takes to work through the entire process varies depending on the offense, but it looks something like this:
I forgive - I am making a conscious choice to forgive this person for the wrong they have committed.
I am forgiving - when it comes back up again, I turn my heart and my mind back to the choice I made. I don’t keep dwelling on it.
I have forgiven - In time, God can bring you to a place where you genuinely seek for a person’s best interests. You can pray for them to prosper and rejoice when they do.
- What does it cost you?
What does it cost you?
o The right to hold this over the other person’s head
The right to hold this over the other person’s head
o Your ability to control the person and the situation.
Your ability to control the person and the situation.
Sometimes, your dignity as others question why in the world you would forgive that person
o Sometimes, your dignity as others question why in the world you would forgive that person
- I will not lie to you—it is not easy to forgive, especially when there has been legitimate, deep hurt that you carry with you continually.
I will not lie to you—it is not easy to forgive, especially when there has been legitimate, deep hurt that you carry with you continually.
- No matter what it costs you, always keep in perspective that the forgiveness Christ has given you was immeasurably more costly to Him than the forgiveness you give to another. Remember that your sin debt was in the billions, while the one offending you is so much less.
No matter what it costs you, always keep in perspective that the forgiveness Christ has given you was immeasurably more costly to Him than the forgiveness you give to another. Remember that your sin debt was in the billions, while the one offending you is so much less.
You have been greatly forgiven, so you must forgive greatly.
Also keep in mind that it is always worth the cost. Among other things, granting forgiveness releases you from bondage to bitterness.
- Also keep in mind that it is always worth the cost. Among other things, granting forgiveness releases you from bondage to bitterness.
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;" ()
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;" ()
Not only does God forgive most, we also see that:
- Not only is forgiveness costly, we also see that:
II) Forgiveness Is Given Freely

2) God forgives freely.

- Notice what happens in this story. The master grants forgiveness freely. He releases his demand on the man and his family.
Notice what happens in this story. The master grants forgiveness freely. He releases his demand on the man and his family.
In the same way, God freely forgave us.
- In the same way, God freely forgave us.
- What did you and I pay to God to earn our forgiveness?
What did you and I pay to God to earn our forgiveness?
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Ephesians 2:8–9 CSB
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." ()
You did nothing to earn or deserve God’s forgiveness. You couldn’t buy it, even if you wanted to.
- You did nothing to earn or deserve God’s forgiveness. You couldn’t buy it, even if you wanted to.
- No amount of good can undo the bad!
No amount of good can undo the bad!
- In the same way, in light of the mountainous volume of our forgiveness, we must also offer forgiveness freely to all.
In the same way, in light of the mountainous volume of our forgiveness, we must also offer forgiveness freely to all.
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." ()
Colossians 3:12–13 CSB
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." ()
- Here are some objections we give to that:
There is no wiggle room in that statement, is there?
Here are some objections we give to that:
They don’t deserve forgiveness – As we just said, neither do we.
o They don’t deserve forgiveness – As we just said, neither do we.
If I forgive them, I’m letting them off the hook – “Remember: Letting the offender off of your hook does not mean they are off of God’s hook. Forgiveness involves transferring the prisoner over to the One who is able and responsible to mete out justice. It relieves us of the burden and responsibility to hold them in prison ourselves.”[iii]
o If I forgive them, I’m letting them off the hook – “Remember: Letting the offender off of your hook does not mean they are off of God’s hook. Forgiveness involves transferring the prisoner over to the One who is able and responsible to mete out justice. It relieves us of the burden and responsibility to hold them in prison ourselves.”[iii]
"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”" ()
We are going to talk more about this in the next few weeks, but when you forgive, you are letting God take care of the offense. He is the just judge who can handle it, not you.
- I know it sounds crazy, but will you believe God when He says that forgiving others is genuinely the best policy? Will you be willing to trust Him enough to take care of setting things right?
I know it sounds crazy, but will you believe God when He says that forgiving others is genuinely the best policy? Will you be willing to trust Him enough to take care of setting things right?
Because that’s the last aspect of God’s forgiveness we see...

3) God calls us to forgive.

III) Forgiveness is Necessary
- Look in verses 32-35. Jesus implies that there is a forgiveness that will be withheld from us if we do not give forgiveness to others. How can that be if we have been forgiven?
Look in verses 32-35.
- Jay Adams puts it this way:
That last verse is daunting, isn’t it? Although there is some debate on exactly what Jesus means here and in passages like the Model Prayer in , it seems Jesus is saying that those who do not forgive have not experienced the forgiveness God extends to us.
In other words, if you are refusing to begin the process of forgiving someone, you need to make sure that you are truly saved.
- So, although we have judicial forgiveness that cannot change, we continually go back for parental forgiveness.
So, although we have judicial forgiveness that cannot change, we continually go back for parental forgiveness.
I am not saying that you have to completely forgive everyone to earn salvation. Just like every other act of obedience, we are able to do these things because we have been saved, not to earn it.
- It seems from this passage and others (such as the Model Prayer in ) that if we are unwilling to forgive, God will not forgive us in this fatherly kind of way.
It seems from this passage and others (such as the Model Prayer in ) that if we are unwilling to forgive, God will not forgive us in this fatherly kind of way.
If you are unwilling to even take the first step in asking God to give you the strength to forgive, then you need to take a hard look at your life, because something is deeply wrong in your relationship with God.
Not only does a lack of forgiveness keep us from experiencing the fullness of a relationship with God, it also isolates us from others.
- Not only does a lack of forgiveness keep us from experiencing the fullness of a relationship with God, it also isolates us from others.
The hurt we experienced festers in our souls, resulting in bitterness that keeps us from being able to enjoy life with others.
In our study through Ephesians, we saw that bitterness is one of the characteristics of the old way of life that we are to put off:
Ephesians 4:31 CSB
Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice.
This is also an issue in the book of Philippians, where the bickering between two women in the church escalated to the point that Paul addresses it in his letter!
- Remember ? Look at that verse again…
This is also an issue in the book of Philippians, where the bickering between two women in the church escalated to the point that Paul addresses it in his letter!
- This is also an issue in the book of Philippians, where the bickering between two women in the church escalated to the point that Paul addresses it in his letter!
Philippians 4:2 CSB
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord.
"I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord." ()
Euodia literally means “fragrant” and Syntyche means “with fate”
Euodia literally means “fragrant” and Syntyche means “with fate”
Euodia literally means “fragrant” and Syntyche means “with fate”
- Euodia literally means “fragrant” and Syntyche means “with fate”
Here, a woman whose very name was “fragrant” was at enmity with another sister in Christ and it was hurting the church badly enough that Paul had to call them out by name in Scripture!
- Here, a woman whose very name was “fragrant” was at enmity with another sister in Christ and it was defiling the church.
- This is what happens—Your bitterness doesn’t stay inside you. It affects your attitude towards everyone else because you are guarding that part of your heart from anybody else. You poison people with your words as you slander the one who hurt you.
This is what happens—Your bitterness doesn’t stay inside you. It affects your attitude towards everyone else because you are guarding that part of your heart from anybody else. You poison people with your words as you slander the one who hurt you.
That is why forgiveness is so necessary in the family of God. Not forgiving causes the church to be divided and devoured.
- That is why forgiveness is so necessary in the family of God. Not forgiving causes the church to be divided and devoured.
Conclusion
· We must forgive freely, even when it is costly.
God is doing great things in and through our church in the days ahead, and I don’t want to see anything hinder what God wants to do.
We must forgive freely, even when it is costly.
If so, we need to embrace the forgiveness God offers us and extend it to others like he has extended to us.
Who have you not forgiven? If you have not shown them the forgiveness God gave you, I want you to take some time today. I have put a worksheet out in the foyer for you to pick up. This is from Life Action Revival Ministries, and it is challenging, but it will help you to work through your unforgiveness.
· Who have you not forgiven? If you have not given shown them the forgiveness God gave you, I want you to take some time today. I have put a worksheet out in the foyer for you to pick up. This is from Life Action Revival Ministries, and it is challenging, but it will help you to work through your unforgiveness.
Remember that forgiveness is just the first step. It will be a battle to fight through the thought patterns and habits that you have fallen in to, but the war against bitterness will not be won without first fighting the battle to forgive.
· Remember that forgiveness is just the first step. It will be a battle to fight through the thought patterns and habits that you have fallen in to, but the war against bitterness will not be won without first fighting the battle to forgive.
· Maybe you have never experienced genuine forgiveness in your walk with Christ. You can today…
Maybe you have never experienced genuine forgiveness in your walk with Christ. You can today…
[i] Walvoord, Zuck. “”. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament). 62.
[i] Walvoord, Zuck. “”. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament). 62.
[ii] Adams, Jay. A Theology of Christian Counseling. 222.
[ii] Adams, Jay. A Theology of Christian Counseling. 222.
[iii] “Freedom through Forgiveness,” Life Action Revival MinistriesThe Unforgiving Forgiven
[iii] “Freedom through Forgiveness,” Life Action Revival Ministries
Matthew 18:21-35
Intro
· Recap:
o Nature of parables
o First two weeks – God scattering His Kingdom and seeking the lost
o Last two weeks – Our response to the message of the Kingdom
o This Week & Next – Living out the Kingdom lifestyle
o Final Week – The judgment of the King
· This morning, I want us to see an especially crucial aspect of Kingdom living: the issue of forgiveness when wronged.
· “Milk lots of cows, but churn your own butter” – I milked several cows to get the content for this message…
· Let’s look at Matthew 18, starting with verse 21…
· I’m pretty sure that, as soon as I started, someone in this room immediately said in their heart, “Oh, I don’t need to hear this again.” Would you promise me that you will agree with God, and that you will respond to what He tells you through this?
· You may be confronted this morning with something ugly from your past that you thought you had forgotten about and were over—would you allow God to show you if there is any unforgiveness in your heart?
· Let’s stop and pray before we go any farther…
· Although the moral is pretty clear, it is always important to look at the context of the story to get a clear picture.
o Vv 21-22 – “Peter was being generous here, for the traditional Rabbinic teaching was that an offended person needed to forgive a brother only three times.”[i]
o Jesus’ response would have floored him, and the picture He outlines is crystal clear.
· I want you to see this morning that we must forgive freely, even when it is costly.
· Let’s look at this in greater detail:
I) Forgiveness Is Costly
- For the one giving the forgiveness, forgiveness is very costly.
- For the master in the story, it cost 10,000 talents. A talent was likely between 58-80 lbs of gold, so you’re talking 580,000-800,000 lbs of gold. At the close of the market on Friday, that would have equaled out to at least $11,179,152,000.
- In comparison, the other slave owed the first slave 100 denarii. A denarius is a day’s wage, so in today’s figures would have been about $6000.
- Isn’t this what God has done for us?
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
- How complete is that cleansing?
"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14)
- He cancelled our debt.
"As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12)
- Remember what David said about his position after God forgave him?
" How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!" (Psalm 32:1-2)
- As an aside maybe you are struggling with this reality this morning. Perhaps you, even as a believer, have sinned in such seemingly awful ways that you cannot imagine how God could love you and forgive you yet again.
"Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." (Psalm 103:13)
- He is not pleased when you sin, yet remember, He is the God of Lost Things, and just like that Father, He runs to you and restores you when you return.
- That’s because it is all about grace!
- In light of God’s gracious forgiveness of us, how can we withhold forgiveness from anyone?
- That doesn’t discount the reality of their sin against you. Remember, the second slave owed around $6000 to the first.
- However,
- Forgiveness was costly to Christ, but it will also be costly for you.
- To understand the cost, we must understand what forgiveness is. By saying, “I forgive you,” you are saying:
o “I’ll not bring this matter up to you again;
o I’ll not bring it up to others;
o I’ll not bring it up to myself (i.e., dwell on it in my mind)”[ii]
- What does it cost you?
o The right to hold this over the other person’s head
o Your ability to control the person and the situation.
o Sometimes, your dignity as others question why in the world you would forgive that person
- I will not lie to you—it is not easy to forgive, especially when there has been legitimate, deep hurt that you carry with you continually.
- No matter what it costs you, always keep in perspective that the forgiveness Christ has given you was immeasurably more costly to Him than the forgiveness you give to another. Remember that your sin debt was in the billions, while the one offending you is so much less.
- Also keep in mind that it is always worth the cost. Among other things, granting forgiveness releases you from bondage to bitterness.
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;" (Hebrews 12:15)
- Not only is forgiveness costly, we also see that:
II) Forgiveness Is Given Freely
- Notice what happens in this story. The master grants forgiveness freely. He releases his demand on the man and his family.
- In the same way, God freely forgave us.
- What did you and I pay to God to earn our forgiveness?
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- You did nothing to earn or deserve God’s forgiveness. You couldn’t buy it, even if you wanted to.
- No amount of good can undo the bad!
- In the same way, in light of the mountainous volume of our forgiveness, we must also offer forgiveness freely to all.
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." (Colossians 3:12-13)
- Here are some objections we give to that:
o They don’t deserve forgiveness – As we just said, neither do we.
o If I forgive them, I’m letting them off the hook – “Remember: Letting the offender off of your hook does not mean they are off of God’s hook. Forgiveness involves transferring the prisoner over to the One who is able and responsible to mete out justice. It relieves us of the burden and responsibility to hold them in prison ourselves.”[iii]
"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”" (Romans 12:17-20)
- I know it sounds crazy, but will you believe God when He says that forgiving others is genuinely the best policy? Will you be willing to trust Him enough to take care of setting things right?
III) Forgiveness is Necessary
- Look in verses 32-35. Jesus implies that there is a forgiveness that will be withheld from us if we do not give forgiveness to others. How can that be if we have been forgiven?
- Jay Adams puts it this way:
- So, although we have judicial forgiveness that cannot change, we continually go back for parental forgiveness.
- It seems from this passage and others (such as the Model Prayer in Matthew 6) that if we are unwilling to forgive, God will not forgive us in this fatherly kind of way.
- Not only does a lack of forgiveness keep us from experiencing the fullness of a relationship with God, it also isolates us from others.
- Remember Hebrews 12? Look at that verse again…
- This is also an issue in the book of Philippians, where the bickering between two women in the church escalated to the point that Paul addresses it in his letter!
"I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord." (Philippians 4:2)
- Euodia literally means “fragrant” and Syntyche means “with fate”
- Here, a woman whose very name was “fragrant” was at enmity with another sister in Christ and it was defiling the church.
- This is what happens—Your bitterness doesn’t stay inside you. It affects your attitude towards everyone else because you are guarding that part of your heart from anybody else. You poison people with your words as you slander the one who hurt you.
- That is why forgiveness is so necessary in the family of God. Not forgiving causes the church to be divided and devoured.
Conclusion
· We must forgive freely, even when it is costly.
· Who have you not forgiven? If you have not given shown them the forgiveness God gave you, I want you to take some time today. I have put a worksheet out in the foyer for you to pick up. This is from Life Action Revival Ministries, and it is challenging, but it will help you to work through your unforgiveness.
· Remember that forgiveness is just the first step. It will be a battle to fight through the thought patterns and habits that you have fallen in to, but the war against bitterness will not be won without first fighting the battle to forgive.
· Maybe you have never experienced genuine forgiveness in your walk with Christ. You can today…
[i] Walvoord, Zuck. “Matthew 18:21-22”. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament). 62.
[ii] Adams, Jay. A Theology of Christian Counseling. 222.
[iii] “Freedom through Forgiveness,” Life Action Revival Ministries
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