A Christianís approach to life situations part 11

Forgiveness

 

To the Christians the word forgiveness should be one of the most important words in the English language because we know that we were hopeless lost as we drowned in our sins.

But, thankful God loved us enough to provide His son to die for us, so that we could have the forgiveness of our sins. Just as God forgave us when we repented of our sinful past we must also learn to forgive those who sin against us when they repent.

 

Jesus gives a great parable that will help to see all sides of forgiveness and it will teach us how to handle forgiveness in our lives.

 

Matthew 18:23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.24 "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.26 "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'27 "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

 

In this parable the King represents God and the servant represents us. This Parable is historically accurate because during these times a person who did not pay his debt would be thrown into jail for it. If he couldnít pay his debt then they would sell his belonging and even his family to try and get their money back. The logic behind this law was that a person would take their debt very seriously and they would do what ever took to pay their debt. Could you imagine how many people would be in jail in our society today if that law was in use right now. Most Americans donít even give a huge debt a second thought because they know they can just file bankruptcy.

 

The King is ready to collect his money and we find out that this one servant owes him 10,000 talents. This is huge amount of money and the value of this depends on weather or not this was gold or silver. If it was silver the Roman standard value of this would be 3 million by the Jewish standard it would be 10 million. If it was gold it would be over 150 million dollars. The servant of course had no way of paying this debt and was at the mercy of the king. He knew the law and he knew that the king would throw him into prison and sell his family and his belongs to try and to recover atleast part of his money. We must remember that the standard pay back then was one denarius per day which is equal to about 17 cents in our standards today. So we see that even if this man gave his entire wage every day it would have taken him 200,000 years to pay it off. This man was doomed.

 

When we apply this to us today we can know that the Day of Judgment is going to happen and all of us will stand before Jesus and give an account of lives 2 Cor. 5:10. Every accountable person has sinned and this becomes a debt that we cannot pay. We are just like this servant we are helpless before God.

 

Mark 10: 26 Ö "Who then can be saved?"27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

 

I canít help but wonder if this servant had kept on telling himself that he would take care of his debt to the king later, but as we read later never came. There a lot Christians and nonChristians who have this attitude that they can live in sin now and obtain forgiveness later. However, just like our servant, later may be to late because we do not have any guarantees in this life. For instance, you think about those that just died in Minnesota on that bridge. They never would have dreamed that they would die on that in that way and odds are a majority of them had put off obtaining forgiveness for their sins and now it to late for them because once you die there are no second chances and there is no escape if we neglect our salvation that is offered through Jesus. However, while we are still breathing we have the opportunity to receive the forgiveness of sins.

 

In vrs 26 of our parable out of desperation the servant falls down before his king and pleads and begs him to have mercy on him to allow him to have more time to pay his debt. Again, this shows us that we are at the mercy of God and without him and his grace we are hopelessly lost.

 

In verse 27 when it says that king was ďmoved with compassionĒ. This expression is a very strong one and it carries the idea that the king had felt a deep pain for the suffering of this servant and not only did this king exercise great patience with his servant he forgave him his whole debt. This represents the great love and mercy that God has for all us as He has provided us a way to have our debt of sin forgiven by the blood of Jesus.

 

1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

We also read of the patience of God in,

 

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

 

This should be encouraging to us today to know that our Father understands that we struggle with sin and that he will have mercy upon us when he sees us suffering with our sin and when he sees us repent from the heart he will forgive and forget our debt our sin just as the king forgave the debt of his servant. Since God has forgiven us when we repented, we should show the same forgiveness to others when they repent. But, notice what our servant does as we continue in parable.

 

Matthew 18: 28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'30 "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.

 

Sometimes we as Christians lose sight of this forgiveness that we have received and then we donít want to forgive others. Jesus told his disciples in Mat 10:8 when he was sending them out to heal people and teach about the coming kingdom, he told them freely you have received freely give. Unfortunately this servant did not do this, instead we find out that he had a servant that owed him a sum of money 100 denarii. This would be somewhere around 15 to 25 dollars today. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded hat he pay. But the servant did not have the money and in the same manner he fell on the ground before him and begged for mercy. Now it should have been easy for this servant to have forgiven this man this small debt after having been forgiven himself a 3 - 10 million dollar debt. But no, he did not forgive him, instead he had the man put in jail. A lot of people love to receive the mercy and the forgiveness of others, but they themselves donít want to be forgivers. This did not go un-noticed as continue in verse,

 

Matthew 18:31 "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.32 "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.33 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'34 "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

 

These other servants understood that this man should have forgiven his fellow servant and so they brought the matter before the king and the king was furious had the man brought before him. Since he did not show compassion on his fellow servant when begged for mercy as the king had given him. He is now thrown in to face the torturers until all is paid. The tortures represent hell and because of this man unwillingness to forgive as he was forgiven he will be in this place for eternity because there is no way for Him to ever pay His debt.

 

Jesus point is that if you and I are not willing to forgive others when they repent then God will not forgive us either. So, as Christians we must learn to forgive people or can cost our soul. The reason why Jesus taught this parable was because of what Peter asked just before it.

 

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

 

We need to understand that Jewish tradition tells us that the rabbis back then taught that a person was obligated to forgive a person 3 times and that was it. But, Peter using the number 7, which to the Jew symbolized the complete or perfect number. He probably thought he was being very generous. But, notice Jesus says, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.Ē When Jesus says this, He has in mind an infinite amount of times. This verse alone should be encouraging to us as Christians because we all know that God will not ask us to do something that he is unwilling to do.

 

Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

 

Not only are we to forgive our brothers and sisters without limit this means that our heavenly father will also forgive us of our sins without limit when we repent. Now, you might have notice throughout this lesson that have been saying that we must forgive someone when they repent. The reason why I have been stressing that is because God requires us to do what He is willing to do. The Bible makes it clear that we must repent before we can become a child of God and after we become a child of God, we must repent and confess our sins to God so that they are forgiven.

 

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

To the church of Ephesus,

 

Revelation 2:5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place -- unless you repent.

 

To the church at Thyatira John records this about a woman named Jezebel,

 

Revelation 2:21 "And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.22 "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.

 

God makes repentance necessary for forgiveness of sin because He does not forgive people their sins without action on their part. If He did then we could teach the false doctrine of one saved always saved and we could go about sinning daily without concern if God forgives us unconditionally without repentance and it would make Paul statements that we can fall from Grace (Gal. 5:4) or that we should take heed lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12) false statements. However, it is very easy to see that we have responsibility when it comes to our forgiveness and to the forgiveness of others.

 

We need to realize that forgiveness means that when a sin has been committed against us it is supposed to be forgotten and we enter back into full fellowship with the offender and we are to offer this type of forgiveness without limit when the repent.

 

However if a person sins against you and they do not repent we are not obligated forgive that person because God would not. If we continue to do so, we are doing that person a great injustice because it encourages them to continue to sin against people with no ramifications. Now please keep in mind that forgiveness means that what they did is forgotten and it restores our relationship with them. When we continue to do this we are neglecting our responsibilities as Christians.

 

Luke 17:3 "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.4 "And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."

 

Sometimes we find it easier to overlook a sin than to tell our brother or sister what they did, but as you can see Jesus tells us to rebuke them. The reason why we do this is so that person can know that they have sinned against you. Sometimes a person can be unaware that they have done something wrong and faithful Christian should want to know if they have sinned. You might be surprised when you point out something someone has done to you they might thank you. But whether they do or not it is our responsibility to show that person where they have sinned and notice IF they repent then forgive them.

 

Now certainly there are things that we can overlook as we show our love for one another. Just because someone hurt you feelings because they said something that caused you pain doesnít necessarily mean that they sinned against you and when we have things like this happen to us that are not a Biblical sin we should be willing to overlook that event unless it continues to happen. Again, if a Christian is guilty of this and their attitude and the behavior is not changing and they continue to hurt others with their words they need to be informed because they probably donít realize what they are saying is causing problems.

 

Jesus tells us exactly how we are to handle those who have sinned against us.

 

Matthew 18:15 " Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'17 "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

 

This is easy 3 step process that Jesus tells about. First, we tell the offender what they did was wrong on your own. If they will not listen, then you are to take 2 or 3 witness along, so they can hear the offence and hear the response of the offender. Third, if they still will not repent of what they did then the matter is to brought before the church and if they still refuse to repent then they are to disfellowshipped.

 

Some may view this as a harsh and cruel message, but it is not. This process is used to get the offender to realize what they did was a sin and that they need to take care of that sin by repenting so they can be right with God.

 

Now, let me tell what this does not mean. It does not mean that we are treat this person badly instead, Paul tells us,

 

2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

 

During this time if discipline doesnít give us the right to treat as an enemy or render evil for evil. Even in regards to our enemies Jesus says this,

 

Matthew 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven

 

Obviously if we are supposed to do this for our enemies, certainly we can see that we are not to treat our fallen brother or sister with anger or disdain.

 

Finally, the last thing I want to point out is that we should always have a forgiving spirit, which means you are always ready to forgive. Now, some get confused between having a forgiving spirit and forgiving. To bring clarity to this I want to remind you that forgiving someone means that their sin against you is gone and forgotten and you are in full fellowship with them.

 

However, a forgiving spirit is when someone sins against you know what they did was wrong, but you do not hold a grudge against them and you are ready and willing to forgive them when they repent. This is necessary for every Christians because if you donít have forgiving spirit the sin they committed against you will eat you alive and make you miserable. While you may resolve the issue in your mind so that you are not vengeful or having a grudge you have not forgiven that person for the sin and repentance must still place in order for your relationship with them to fully reconciled.

 

This is very similar to the way God works in our lives. He loves and cares for us and always ready to forgive. However, he does not offer forgiveness until we repent. This concept can be seen through out the entire Bible.

 

In conclusion, let us always rejoice about the wonderful word of forgiveness and praise God that He was willing to give us His son as a perfect sacrifice so that we could have the forgiveness of our sins. We have learned that just as God forgives us when we repent we must also forgive those who sin against us and then repent. We learned that we have responsibility as Christians to rebuke those who sin against us so that they may repent for their sin and be right with God and with us. Finally we learned that we should always have forgiving spirit so that we donít hold a grudge and we are always ready to forgive those who repent.