Forgiven To Forgive 27 SEPTEMBER 2020 | TRADITIONAL Services | REV LILIAN ANG

Forgiven To Forgive


Rev Lilian Ang

Scripture Passage: Matthew 18:21-25 (NIV)


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Summary | The parable of the unforgiving servant is not about our salvation from God but about the forgiveness that we, who have experienced God’s saving grace, give to others. Forgiveness is not indifference but is love towards the unlovely.

Undeserved Forgiveness (vs. 21-22): To forgive is not about avoiding conflict or just bearing with the injury. Neither is it to pretend there is no hurt when there is. Forgiveness is not passively waiting for the pain to go away. This parable was told by Jesus in the context of dealing with sin within the church where there was unrepentance by the one who committed the sin. Peter then asked the Lord about limits of forgiveness (v. 21). He thought 7 times was enough. Jesus’ reply must have startled Peter. “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (v. 22). Seventy-seven was a way of stating that love does not keep count. As we learn to forgive more and more, a forgiving habit is formed. Just as God did not put limits to His forgiveness to repentant sinners, so we are to do likewise.

Receiving Forgiveness (vs. 23-27): These verses form Scene 1 of the parable where the problem (v. 24) was the 10,000 talents owed to the king; the penalty (v. 25) was the command to sell everything the servant owed; the plea (v. 26) by the servant is followed by the pardon (v. 27) where the king cancels the debt and releases the servant. The king forgave his debt-ridden servant of an incalculable amount. This is a picture of amazing grace as the king forgave freely. Forgiveness is therefore treating the offender better than he deserved; a choice one makes; is costly and without limit; and a restoration of fellowship. God’s gift of salvation includes His forgiveness and restoration of fellowship with Himself. This is a debt we could never pay.

Experiencing Forgiveness (vs. 28-30): Scene 2 describes how the forgiven servant did not offer forgiveness to a fellow servant for a trivial debt and instead, grabbed and choked his debtor (v. 28). With pursuit and pressure, he did not heed the pleas of his fellow servant (vs. 29) and swiftly meted out the penalty of imprisonment. This man, who received forgiveness from the king was unable to forgive his fellow man for a much smaller debt. Sadly, we sometimes behave like this unforgiving servant. We find it hard to forgive those who injure us. We need to root out resentment and bring to God the hurts we experience. Often, our pride, sense of injustice and desire for revenge weigh on us. A man shot in the back eventually died, not because of the bullet wound but due to infection caused by the constant probing for the bullet by doctors. Similarly, when we dwell too long on an offence, it will continue to hurt us. We may have had trust betrayed or have been humiliated or treated unfairly. Yet, in the midst of pain, Jesus tells us to forgive. The word “forGIVE” reminds us to give someone release for the wrong done to us. This is not turning a blind eye to injustice but a choice we make. We give up our right to retaliate. Forgiveness is a process that takes time. Visible signs of experienced forgiveness include gratitude towards God and a gradual willingness to forgive others. A forgiven person becomes a forgiving person.

Offering Forgiveness – The final scene (vs. 31-34) tells of other servants reporting to the king about the actions of the unforgiving servant. The king pronounces him as “wicked” (v. 32) for not showing mercy (v. 33). The punishment of torture in jail is given (v. 34). Unlike this king, God does not change His mind regarding our salvation. However, none of our dealings with God can be separated from our dealings with people.

Parable Principle – “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (v. 35). As Christians, we are to have a transformed heart that shows the same mercy and forgiveness we have received from our Heavenly Father.

Through forgiveness, we experience God’s peace. So, live in the freedom of forgiveness, for we have been forgiven to forgive.

(Sermon Notes by Angela Goh )


1. How would you describe your willingness to forgive someone who has hurt you?

2. Share an incident in which you have forgiven someone. What led to your decision to forgive that person?

3. Share an incident in which someone did not accept your apology when you ask for forgiveness. How did you respond?

4. From the speaker’s sharing on what forgiveness is and is not, what are your new insights about forgiveness that will help you grow towards forgiving someone?

5. The speaker asked this question: The servant received forgiveness but did he really experience forgiveness? Share your responses. What are the visible signs of a person who has experienced forgiveness?

6. Make a list of persons who need your forgiveness (those who have hurt you in some ways). Share with the group what you would do towards forgiving each person in your list.

7. Make a list of people you need to ask for forgiveness. Share with the group how you would approach each case.