Forgiven To Forgive
26/27 SEPTEMBER 2020 | PRAYER & PRAISE SERVICES
Rev David Ho
Scripture Passage: Matthew 18:21-25 (NIV)
WATCH | SERMON (Video)
(Click on video below)
READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary | Gratitude that stems from a genuine experience of God’s mercy, translates to forgiveness on our part as His forgiven people. To the extent we are grateful to God for His unconditional pardon, will we extend to our perpetrators that same freedom of release.
Jesus provided His radical teaching on forgiveness when Peter needed a clarification on the question “Do I forgive up to seven times” (beyond the Jewish rabbinic teaching of three times)? No, seventy-seven times, was the Master’s reply, effectively reversing the vengeful law of Lamech which sought vengeance in the face of hurt (Genesis 4:23-24). Jesus offers us another way that breaks the cycle of resentment and vengeance, where Citizens of God’s kingdom keep forgiving one another, continually without limit.
1. God Restores Communion by His Gracious Forgiveness
Jesus’ parable highlights God’s redemptive purpose for our world, demonstrating the greatness of humanity’s sin where we are held accountable to God for our staggering debt that we can never repay on our own (the analogy of 200,000 years of non-stop work worth over $13 billion of income today). Our spiritual bankruptcy stems from our wilful rebellion against God, our loveless and selfish acts and thoughts, envy, pride, anger, lust, the hurt we cause others, bitter grudges, hatred, lies, comparing and competing through the years. Yet the unimaginable greatness of God’s grace cancels our enormous debt completely with no payment needed! It is the sheer grace of God at work to forgive us by His endless mercies and compassions. Like the servant, we are desperately needy of our Saviour’s redemption. We stand before a holy God who sees our hearts. No acclaimed assets or accomplishments acquired can save us. Only God’s forgiving acceptance restores us back to Him.
2. Humanity Destroys Communion Through Ungraciousness
Conversely, Jesus’ parable shows the tyranny of an ungracious spirit and the consequential torment of an unforgiving heart. Failing to recognise the immense grace by which the King had set him free, the forgiven servant ungraciously chose not to forgive a smaller debt owed him (3 months’ worth of income) by a fellow servant, subjecting him instead to violent choking and cruel imprisonment in order to exact payment. Why did he who had received so much not extend the same mercy, thus inciting the King’s fury and destroying their communion? It seems he did not fully appreciate the gracious pardon he had received, perhaps thinking he was good enough to repay the debt still. God’s righteous anger is provoked when members of His family having received His generous grace, do not forgive one another from the heart. While salvation is not earned by works (such as the work of forgiveness) but through Jesus’ redemptive grace, God wants to free us from an unforgiving heart tormented by hatred and bitterness, so we can enjoy peaceful communion with Him and with one another. It is not enough to simply know God is merciful – we are to be to the world a kind, forgiving people whose God others can turn to for forgiveness and restoration.
3. Disciples Restore Communion by Practicing the Way of Forgiveness
It helps to know that FORGIVENESS is:
- Not an emotional feeling but a choice we make
- Not ignoring or diminishing the hurt or pain of an offence
- Not dependent on the offender’s repentance
- Not a pardon - does not excuse the offender from taking responsibility
- Does not necessarily lead to reconciliation which involves the other party. Some hurts go so deep it can take time, but forgiveness is the first step.
Not to forgive our brothers and sisters from the heart carries a dire warning of God’s righteous anger. (v. 35) Integral to our discipleship, Jesus teaches us in The LORD’s Prayer to seek God’s forgiveness of our debts as we forgive our debtors. Three daily habits help cultivate a gracious spirit that forgives:
- Repenting of our need to retaliate by seeking daily God’s cleansing of any vengeful thoughts
- Remembering we have been forgiven a great debt by God, we can focus not on what others do to us but what Jesus has done for us
- Recommitting to follow Jesus by carrying the cross, we can defy evil with a gesture of forgiveness, enabled by Christ to willingly forgive and pray that God would bless, teach and transform the ones who hurt us.
Forgiven Forgivers. The parable does not downplay impossibly hard to forgive deep hurt and abuse, but offers HOPE to victims that Jesus can redeem past hurts and offers a new way of living in His Kingdom. God gives along with the command to forgive, the love itself (Corrie ten Boom).
(Sermon Notes by Marjorie Tan )
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1. To what extent can you identify with the first servant who owed an astronomical debt to his master? Share your response. How may your response influence your prayer life, in particular your prayers for God’s forgiveness?
2. Reflect on the depth of God’s forgiveness of your sin and rebellion against Him. How much of this have you personally experienced?
3. Reflect upon this statement: “Those who love God deeply are those who have experienced God’s forgiveness deeply.” Share the thoughts and feelings that come to you.
4. What is your posture or attitude toward people who have offended or hurt you deeply? To what extent can you identify with the unmerciful servant who refused to forgive the debt of his fellow servant even though he has been forgiven much?
5. 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?
6. Take some time to be still and allow the Holy Spirit to help you discern whether you hold any resentment, bitterness or anger against any person. Is there someone you need to forgive that you find it difficult to forgive? What may the reasons be?
7. As you prepare your heart to forgive the person/s (shared in question 6), take some time to soak into your heart and mind: God’s deep mercy for you in paying off your debt to Him with the very life and blood of His precious Son. When you are ready, ask God for His grace to have mercy and forgive the person/s.
8. How can you apply the suggested practice of “Repenting, Remembering and Recommitting” in your life to grow towards becoming a more forgiving person?
9. Is there anything that the Lord might be prompting you to do that would facilitate forgiveness and healing of relationships within your family, in your workplace or in church?