Matthew 18:21-35 The Key to Forgiving

1)    Forgiving is a continual process

After Jesus taught about forgiving them if they repent Peter obviously wanted to know if there was a limit like they had been taught. The Jewish Rabbi’s taught that you only had to forgive someone three times so  Peter’s question was, “Does forgiveness have a limit?” or “At what point do you not forgive?” Peter was thinking in terms of the Law but not in terms of Grace.

70 times 7

This was not a number to be given that you would get to and quit. It meant you never stop forgiving no matter how many times the person came back to you.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV)

The NIV version translates this better because the ESV says that love is not irritated which means count up wrongs. This verse, although used in weddings is written to the church.

We track hurts like banks tracks money. We know where every penny has been spent and where every dollar has gone. We know every hurt that has been done to us and how many times that individual has done it.

A Brothers sin is not to outlast our forgiveness.

Read 18:23-27 The Kingdom of Heaven is like

This is still dealing with the Church and a tie in to the previous verses,  if the person being disciplined repents no matter what they have done we are to forgive them. The King has the right to step into our lives at any time and ask us to settle our accounts. Although as Christians we are completely forgiven we will also give an account for what we have done on this earth.

1 Corinthians 3: 12-15 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

2)    Forgiving is remembering you need forgiveness

The King wanted to settle His accounts

It was not unusual for people to have slaves back then because people did not have a place to file bankruptcy. If  people could not pay back what they owed then they became property of the person they owed money to.

Ten thousand talents would be like saying,  a trillion bazillion dollars or in essence, it could never be paid back. Jesus picked a number to make His point clear to all those who were listening.  Many estimate that it would be around 6-9 Billion in our day.

Have Patience with Me, I will repay you everything

Is this not our cry to God and to others? Do we not make promises to God how we are going to change? Especially when we get caught?

It is amazing how we want everyone to have patience with us but we do not have patience with others

The King forgave Him

This is the part of Christianity that everyone likes but they miss out on the full meaning of what it means to be forgiven. The man asked for patience and the King released him from his debt or burden. The message of Christianity is simply that the debt we owed gets forgiven by the only one who can truly forgive it which is the King.

Read Matthew 18:28-32

3)    Forgiving is knowing they owe you

The debt this other man owed was a doable loan. It was about a 100 days of labor so not an insurmountable of a debt that the other man had.

Jesus is not saying there is not a debt to be paid, He is saying to forgive it.

The wrenching of the neck was something that actually took place back then. The reason for the story is to show how bizarre it would be for one to be forgiven so much and the other person to not forgive. The reality is every Christian has this potential inside of them to not forgive the hurt that has been done to them even though God has forgiven them for bigger things.

WE sit in church and confess our sins to the Lord and yet hate our brothers in Christ. This man owed money and by the law he had the right to make him pay. We make people pay in different ways, sometimes slander, sometimes how we treat them.

How can we receive the forgiveness of God and not forgive others?

One reason is we do not believe our offense to God is as big as it is. This is proof from the man who said He would pay it back. We believe our sins are bad but can be paid back with some good works. We do not see the huge debt we could never pay back to God.

The humbleness of Christianity is that you cannot earn your way into favor with God, you have to accept it as a free gift.

When Fellow Servants saw

We should be concerned when a Christian is not willing to forgive another brother in Christ. We should take  it to the King when a brother will not forgive another brother and allow the King to deal with them.

Un-forgiveness has destroyed many churches, marriages and other relationships.

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

4)    Forgiveness is in your possession

Wicked Servant sent to the Jailers

Forgiveness is not based on what the other person does or does not do

God hates sin and He will not allow His children to continue in it. If you are a true child of God He will discipline you for not forgiving a fellow brother

Hebrews 12:5-6 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

Jailer or Tortures: This is not a final judgment but discipline. This meant the person was put under stress, hardship, pressure or other difficulties until the sin was confessed.

It was a lifetime of punishment for the one who did not forgive the debt. This is why as Christians when we forgive we are freed even if the person never admits their wrong. As Christians God will not tolerate a heart that is un-forgiving so He will do all He can till you come to a place of repentance.

Many people are locked up thinking the people that hurt you have done that to you but in reality it is God who has allowed you to be there. In one sense you are a prisoner in your own jail system and you hold the key to get out. You do not see it that way because you only see what has been done to you and not the forgiveness you have been granted.

You hold the Key to your release and the key is forgiveness.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

We experience two types of forgiveness. A one time forgiveness granted to us through Jesus Christ. We also receive daily forgiveness as we confess our  daily sins. Once we experience the forgiveness of God it is mandatory that we forgive others.

We have been freed from our sin once and for all (Hebrews 7:25) and we continue to free ourselves from sin as we confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) ( John 13:10)

Confessing is calling sin what God calls sin.

5)    Forgiveness is Supernatural

Forgive from your heart

Have you ever seen a child forced to forgive another sibling? Many of us treat forgiveness that way with God. We say we forgive them but inside we really don’t.  Forgiveness from your heart is when you forgive the person totally. Again this might be a process of healing and not always instant but with God He can make this happen in your life.

There is nothing that is more like Christ than forgiving others.

Luke 23:33-34  And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Adapted from the Book Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall

Forgiveness is not:

1)      Approval of what they did (John 8:11)

In John 8:11 Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery but He did not approve of her actions. HE said go and sin no more.

2)      Excusing what they did (Numbers 14:11-2)

We like to come up with excuses for why we act the way we act and why others do what they do. Sin is sin and we cannot excuse it because of family tradition, background or even our past. When Moses pleaded with God he did not make excuses for the people’s sin.

3)      Reconciliation: (Matthew 18:15-17)

Reconciliation requires two people that are in agreement about what took place. Many times you will have to forgive knowing that there will never be reconciliation because the other person chooses not to acknowledge any wrong doing. This confuses some people because they believe if God forgave us through Jesus dying on the cross, then everyone is forgiven. The problem is God made the way for us to have a right relationship with Him but if we do not admit that what we have done is wrong or sin and repent or change our ways, then we will never be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

People that believe that all go to Heaven when they die miss out that reconciliation does not happen until both sides agree. Christ did his part and our duty is to be ambassadors to get others to agree with Jesus but if they do not then reconciliation will not happen. (This is not an act of works but an acceptance of the free gift from God see Ephesians 2:8-9)

4) Forgiveness does not mean you have to keep putting yourself in harms way.

Romans 16:17-18  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,[a] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

That verse literally means to point them out as someone to watch out for.

5)       Denial of what happened. (1 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 8:12)

In order for forgiveness to take place there has to be something to forgive. Love keeps no records of wrong but we still call it a wrong. Denial does not equal forgiveness because you have to address the sin.

Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

The memories will pop up in our minds and we have to make a choice what to do with them.I also believe this is where the 70 x 7 comes in because even if the person does not sin against you again the reminder of it will surface over and over again.




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