#5 (THE "BEATTITUDES" SERIES)
TEXT: Matt. 5:7; 18:21-35
INTRO: We live in an option oriented society. Just about anything we buy or get has "options" to it.
Buy a car: do you want: a stereo, cassette or CD player, air conditioner, what color, type of interior, electric windows, power locks, power steering, brakes etc.
Buy a phone & service: do you want pulse or tone, storage or regular, speaker phone, conference calling; caller ID, call forwarding, type of long distance service, etc.
TV, what to watch: Westerns, sci-fi, drama, mystery, history channel, business, animals, movie channel, headlines, etc.
Eating out: You have lots of menu choices, and with each there are additional choices.
Shopping: Do you want plastic or paper; debit or credit card; check or cash, loan or lay away, refunds or return, etc.
We have become so accustomed to "OPTIONS" in our world that there is a danger for Christians to look at Christian duties this way too, or Christian principles.
i.e. Witnessing, Tithing, Praying, Devotions, Serving, and great character issues too like: Loving, Encouraging, Correcting, and FORGIVING.
TRANS. SENTENCE: Mercy is the act of forgiving. It is not giving someone what they deserve, but of giving them forgiveness! It is in this context that Jesus states, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Granting mercy or forgiveness to others is NOT an "OPTION" for believers; it is a call to duty!
PROP. SENT: The Bible will teach us that we have received God's mercy by the forgiving of our sins, and that those who are forgiven are to be forgivers.
I. DEPTH OF FORGIVENESS 18:21-22
A. Conditional? 18:21
1. Notice that the start of this chapter in Matthew begins with the question: "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?" (18:1) No doubt Peter was looking for Jesus to pat him on the back for his willingness to forgive a brother up to 7 times for a sin. Surely Peter was one of these "great" ones!
a. The standard teaching at the time was that someone was to be forgiven for up to 3 offenses: based on Amos 1:3,6,9; Job 33:29.
b. This was current Jewish thought, three times would be proper.
c. Perhaps a really great man might go beyond this to 7, the perfect number.
d. Thus, Peter's statement may have been an attempt to "shine" in front of Jesus and the others, to demonstrate what a truly righteous and great man he was willing to be.
2. Peter understood that the questions was not: "Are we to forgive?" but, "how much do we need to forgive?" for he doesn't ask, "IF we should forgive," but "how often?"
a. Peter was quite willing to be forgiving, up to a point.
b. He was even willing to go beyond the expected level, but only up to a point.
c. But this was the problem, he wasn't willing to forgive UNCONDITIONALLY.
3. Christ's call has NO options to it. It is to be complete and unconditionally! Even as we received unconditional forgiveness we must give unconditional forgiveness.
4. There can be no compromise with this call to forgive.
ILLUS: WHEN ANDREW JACKSON WAS BEING INTERVIEWED FOR CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, THE PASTOR SAID, "GENERAL, THERE IS ONE QUESTION MORE WHICH I MUST ASK YOU. CAN YOU FORGIVE ALL YOUR ENEMIES?" ANDREW JACKSON WAS SILENT AS HE RECALLED HIS STORMY LIFE OF BITTER FIGHTING. THEN HE SAID, "MY POLITICAL ENEMIES I CAN FREELY FORGIVE; BUT AS FOR THOSE WHO ATTACKED ME FOR SERVING MY COUNTRY AND THOSE WHO SLANDERED MY WIFE ... DOCTOR, I CANNOT FIRGIVE THEM!" THE PASTOR SAID TO HIM THAT HE COULD NOT BECOME A MEMBER AND TAKE COMMUNION UNTIL HIS HATRED AND BITTERNESS WAS CONFESSED AND DEALT WITH, TO WHICH, AFTER A MOMENT OF SILENCE, ANDREW JACKSON AGREED, HE WOULD FORGIVE EVEN THESE ENEMIES. THERE WOULD BE NO EXCEPTIONS! -- Source Unknown
B. Completely! 18:22
1. Jesus' answer here no doubt stung the proud Peter who had boasted of his desire to go beyond 3 to 7 times.
a. Jesus states that Peter must be willing to forgive 70 times 7!
b. Jesus is not meaning 490 times either ... it is a metaphor to indicate an "unlimited" number of times!
2. Jesus' point was to reprimand Peter and others who would even dare count. Counting means they are keeping record and tracking other's sins so they can get even at some point.
a. Real forgiveness doesn't keep track or a record ... it simply forgives.
b. Jesus forgives and forgets. (This doesn't mean He can't remember, but that He won't remember).
c. When God forgives it is complete, no matter how much or how bad we have been!! This is real Grace and Mercy.
3. Jesus' very name indicates this: When He was named "JESUS" the explanation of that name in Matthew is: "He will save His people from their sins." (Matt. 1:23)
a. The very name of "Jesus" has to do with "forgiveness." So how can we be called by His name and not display the same character to forgive!!!???
b. Jesus' answer to Peter's question is one of completeness.
ILLUS: A YOUNG MAN FROM PENNSYLVANIA YEARS AGO GOT BORED WITH FARM LIFE AND HOME. HE WAS TIRED OF BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO, SO HE LEFT HOME LIKE THE PRODIGAL SON AND RAN WILD. HE PLUNGED HIMSELF INTO THE DEPTHS OF SIN. HIS PARENTS NEVER HEARD FROM HIM. ONE DAY, HOWEVER, HE CAME TO HIS SENSES AND DECIDED TO RETURN HOME HOPING HIS PARENTS WOULD FORGIVE HIM AND RECEIVE HIM BACK. HE EARNED ENOUGH MONEY FOR A TRAIN TICKET HOME. AS THE TRAIN CAME TO HIS HOME TOWN STATION, HOWEVER, HE COULDN'T BRING HIMSELF TO GET OFF. HE FEARED HE WOULD BE REJECTED AND HE COULDN'T FACE HIS PARENTS FACE TO FACE AND BE REJECTED. INSTEAD HE RODE A COUPLE MORE TOWNS DOWN THE LINE AND GOT OFF AND WROTE A LETTER TO HIS PARENTS. HE ASKED THAT IF THEY COULD FORGIVE HIM AND TAKE HIM BACK TO HAVE MOM PUT A WHITE SHEET OUT ON THE LINE AS A SIGNAL THAT HE COULD COME BACK AND BE FORGIVEN. IN HIS LETTER HE ALSO CONFESSED HIS SINS AND HIS SORROW OVER THEM. THE NEXT DAY HE AGAIN RODE THE TRAIN TO HIS HOME TOWN AND WHEN HE APPROACHED HIS HOME HE SAW EVERY SHEET IN THAT HOUSE FLOUNDERING IN THE WIND ALL OVER THE YARD FROM EVERY PLACE ONE COULD BE HUNG. HE WAS OVERWHELMED BY THE LOVE AND FORGIVENESS BEING OFFERED. SOMETHING HE DIDN'T DESERVE, BUT SOMETHING LOVE FOUND! THIS IS JUST HOW CHRIST FORGIVES US WHEN WE COME TO HIM ... AND HOW WE ARE TO FORGIVE OTHERS TOO! -- Source Unknown
4. Jesus now embarks on a story to state the nature of forgiveness, both receiving it from God, and granting it to others.
II. DEBT OF FORGIVENESS 18:23-28
A. Colossal! 18:23-26
1. Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to this following story of 2 servants: both of whom were debtors.
a. The first one, however, was a big time debtor, BIG TIME.
b. The second one owed only a few dollars, barely in debt.
2. This first servant's debt is explained as being "10,000 talents."
a. Consider this: Josephus, a first century Jewish historian wrote that the entire yearly taxes of Judia, Idumea, Samaria, Galilee, and Perea were only 800 talents a year, this man owed well over 10 times that much in a single debt!
b. In our currency this was approximately in the neighborhood of well over $10,000,000 … could you imagine your credit card debt being over $10,000,000?
c. This man's debt is overwhelming!!!! There was no way this man could repay this debt. He probably had been in charge of a large area or cities and was responsible for collecting taxes and other debts and some how he had personally abused this money thus making himself responsible for it.
3. A day of accounting had arrived. This will be true for all who are sinners.
a. Notice in verse 25 it states he is unable to repay this debt.
b. Yet, notice his attitude in verse 26: "Please be patient with me, I will pay back everything."... YEAH RIGHT!
c. Notice the arrogance of his heart. He is unwilling to admit the serious nature of his own debt, and he foolishly thinks he can "buy" more time and pay this off.
4. The normal process for a man so far in debt he couldn't repay it was to sell him into slavery, both he and his family members and take whatever there was.
5. Instead of asking for forgiveness, this man pleads for more time and boastfully says he will repay everything.
a. This is an attitude for disaster.
b. A man who cannot confess his own sin is not likely to be willing to forgive others of their sin.
c. He still thinks he can handle things by himself without help, just needs a little more time.
d. Isn't this exactly the way sinners think who reject Christ's message of salvation and forgiveness?
B. Cancelled! 18:27
1. In spite of his arrogance and pride the Master takes pity on him and cancels the entire debt.
a. The man was also set free.
b. Can you imagine the love of this master to so forgive a debt this large?
c. An impossible debt to repay, yet the master chooses to personally absorb the loss and let this man go free. What an act of forgiveness!
2. This man was not forgiven because he deserved it, in fact he didn't deserve it, he was forgiven because of the compassion and love of the master.
ILLUS: YEARS AGO D.L. MOODY WAS ASKED BY THE GOVERNOR OF A CERTAIN STATE IF HE WOULD DELIVER TO A PRISONER A PARDON HE HAD GRANTED IN RESPONSE TO A NUMBER OF REQUESTS. THE CRIMINAL WAS A WELL KNOWN INFIDEL, BUT MOODY HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE MAN LOOKED LIKE. HE ARRIVED IN THE PRISON CLUTCHING THE PARDON AND WAS TAKEN TO THE CHAPEL WITH ALL THE PRISONERS GATHERED TO HEAR MOODY. THEY DID NOT KNOW WHY HE WAS THERE. NEARLY 500 TO 600 MEN HAD GATHERED THERE. MOODY STOOD BEFORE THEM AND SAID, "I HAVE A PARDON FOR ONE OF YOU. I DON'T KNOW YOU BY FACE, BUT HERE IS THE NAME." FOR A MOMENT THE ROOM WAS SILENT, THOSE HUNDREDS OF MEN DIDN'T MAKE A SOUND AS THEY WAITED BREATHLESSLY TO HEAR WHO IT MIGHT BE, MIGHT IT BE THEM OR SOMEONE ELSE. WHEN MOODY READ THE NAME, THERE WAS A SHRIEK IN THE CROWD. IT WAS ALMOST MORE THAN THIS PRISONER COULD BEAR. HE WAS BEING FORGIVEN SO MUCH, COMPLETELY, HE COULD HARDLY BELIEVE IT. MOODY TOOK HIM ASIDE AND OFFERED HIM ANOTHER PARDON ALSO, FORGIVENESS FROM GOD WHICH IS THE GREATEST PARDON. THIS SECOND PARDON WAS INDEED THE GREATEST! WHAT A MOMENT OF JOY FOR THIS MAN, TO BE SET FREE. -- Source Unknown
3. What an example of forgiveness toward this wicked servant. The master takes all the painful loss and sets this man free from debt and slavery.
a. This is both grace and mercy.
b. In Christ this is what happens to us. We are freed from a debt that we could not repay, and we are set free in Christ from slavery to sin.
c. Our debt of sin is completely and totally forgiven in Christ.
III. DISASTROUS FORMULA! 18:28-35
A. Callous! 18:28-31
1. Now the unbelievable happens. This man who had so much forgiven runs out and finds a fellow servant that owes him 100 denari (about $3) and grabs him by the neck and nearly chokes him to death, demanding immediate repayment of the $3 he has coming to him.
a. The level of emotion used here indicates the hard callous heart of this first servant.
b. It is hard to imagine a man like this, one who had been forgiven so much and now in anger is getting even with another servant that owed him so little. YET, this happens all the time, even in Christian circles.
(1. How many times have we been unwilling to forgive someone for what they did to us?
(2. How many times have we lashed out in anger at someone else for hurting us?
2. This man's heart will make null and void the very forgiveness he had been granted earlier. There is a sense in which we earn the right to be forgiven, or at the least, because we have been forgiven we are expected to forgive.
a. This man's attitude and actions will jeopardize his own forgiveness.
b. As the Bible states, "to whom much is given, much is required." He had been granted much forgiveness. It is expected of him to forgive too.
ILLUS: A MAN NAMED SAMUEL HOLMES WAS JAILED FOR MURDER IN FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY. HE HAD A VISIT FROM AN OLD SCHOOL BUDDY NAMED LUCIEN YOUNG. THE KENTUCKY LEGISLATURE YEARS EARLIER HAD RECORDED ITS APPRECIATION TO THIS LUCIEN YOUNG FOR BRAVERY IN RESCUING SEVERAL LIVES FROM A WRECKED VESSEL. NOW THIS MR. YOUNG MOVED WITH COMPASSION FOR HIS OLD CLASSMATE IN PRISON MADE AN APPEAL TO THE GOVERNOR TO PARDON HIS OLD FRIEND IN PRISON, BUT HE DIDN'T TELL HIS OLD FRIEND ABOUT IT. HE WANTED TO WAIT TO SEE IF IT CAME THROUGH FIRST. THE THEN GOVERNOR BLACKBURN, REMEMBERING THIS MR. YOUNG'S BRAVERY AGREED TO HIS REQUEST AND ISSUED A PARDON FOR HIS SCHOOL BUDDY IN PRISON FOR MURDER. THE GOVERNOR SIGNED IT AND GAVE IT TO LUCIEN YOUNG TO TAKE WITH HIM TO THE PRISON AND ANNOUNCE THE GOOD NEWS. WITH THE PARSON IN HAND LUCIEN CAME TO THE PRISON AND AT FIRST SAID NOTHING TO HIS FRIEND ABOUT THE PARDON, BUT HE DID DECIDE TO ASK HIM A QUESTION FIRST. HE ASKED HIS PRISON FRIEND THIS QUESTION, "SAM, IF YOU WERE TURNED LOOSE AND FULLY PARDONED, WHAT WOULD BE THE FIRST THING YOU WOULD DO?" THE CONVICT VERY QUICKLY RESPONDED, "I WOULD GO TO LANCASTER AND KILL JUDGE OWSLEY AND A MAN WHO WAS A WITNESS AGAINST ME." YOUNG SAID NOTHING, INSTEAD HE TURNED MOURNFULLY AWAY FROM HIS OLD FRIEND AND WENT OUTSIDE THE PRISON WALL WITHOUT EVER MENTIONING THE PARDON OR GIVING IT TO THE WARDEN. HE TOOK THE PARDON FROM HIS POCKET AND TORE IT INTO SMALL FRAGMENTS WITH A DEEP SORROW IN HIS HEART. THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT FORGIVE, WOULD NOT BE FORGIVEN; THOUGH THE ORDER HAD BEEN SIGNED, IT WAS NOT ACCEPTED, AND SO THE MAN WAS NOT FREE. THIS IS HOW CHRIST RESPONDS TO THOSE WHO DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS, WE VANQUISH THE POSSIBILITIES OF OUR OWN PARDON FROM SIN. -- Source Unknown
3. Ironically, this servant who owed him only a few dollars asks for the same consideration that he had earlier received from his master, only here he is not willing to grant it.
a. He has this man thrown into prison for a few dollars of debt.
b. He takes from his man the last few dollars he might have had, and now takes his freedom as well.
c. This would destroy his life and family.
4. Such destructive callousness could not be ignored, and indeed the other servants who watched this could not sit by and do nothing. They go to the master and shared what happened here.
a. The master is outraged.
b. This kind of behavior is unacceptable in the master's kingdom. HOW TRUE!
B. Condemned! 18-32-35
1. He is called up again to face the master who calls him a "wicked servant." Such is the viewpoint of God toward those who will not forgive.
a. He is reminded of his own begging, and the pardon given him.
b. God does not take lightly unforgiving hearts.
2. The master has this servant turned over to the prison guards to be tortured until he should pay back everything due to his hard heart with his fellow servant that only owed him so little but whom he would not forgive.
a. Torture was used when someone could not be trusted as to the real nature of how much they had stolen. This was done to determine the full extent of the theft and whom all they had stolen from.
b. It was not torture to punish as much as to find out information on the real extent of the crime.
3. Once this was determined by torture, then the sentence was conducted to make a way to restore what was taken if possible.
a. The man who thought he had gotten away with the crime has it turned back on him.
b. You might fool man, but you cannot fool God.
ILLUS: THERE WAS A SCOTTISH LAWYER WHO WAS A WICKED MAN. ONE DAY HE HIRED A HORSE AND SOMEHOW MANAGED TO KILL THE ANIMAL IN HIS USE OF IT. THE OWNER INSISTED ON BEING PAID FOR ITS VALUE AND THE LOSS OF ITS USE. THE SLICK LAWYER HE WAS, HE ACKNOWLEDGED HIS WILLINGNESS TO PAY, THAT HE WAS INDEED LIABLE, BUT THAT AT THE MOMENT HE WAS SHORT ON CASH. HE ASKED THE OWNER IF HE WOULD ACCEPT A PROMISSORY NOTE. THE MAN SAID YES HE WOULD AND THEN THE LAWYER ADDED THAT THE TIME FRAME BE ALLOWED TO BE A LONG TIME. THE OWNER OF THE HORSE RELUCTANTLY AGREED TELLING HIM THAT HE COULD FIX WHATEVER TIME ON IT THAT HE FELT WAS FAIR. THE LAWYER DREW UP THE NOTE AND GAVE IT TO THE MAN WHO ACCEPTED IT. HE NOTICED THAT THE DATE FOR REPAYMENT HAD BEEN MARKED "PAYMENT ON JUDGEMENT DAY." THE LAWYER LEFT UPBEAT, THE OWNER FELT CHEATED AND HE WENT TO COURT. IN COURT THE JUDGE WAS ASKED TO READ THE ENTIRE NOTE, NOTICING THE AGREED UPON IN WRITING TIME OF PAYMENT. THE JUDGE THEN SAID, "THE PROMISSORY NOTE IS PERFECTLY GOOD SIR, AND AS THIS IS THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT IN MY COURT, I DEGREE THAT YOU PAY TOMORROW THIS DEBT." HE WAS CAUGHT IN HIS OWN CLEVER PLAN. AND SO IT IS WITH UNFORGIVERS! -- Source Unknown
4. To God this wicked servant's attitude and actions were unacceptable and unforgivable. It is no option for God's servants who have been forgiven so much to forgive others, we must!
a. We have been forgiven huge unpayable debts.
b. Therefore, we can forgive those little debts against us in comparison.
5. The final verse here is categorically clear about God's response to those who will not forgive others: "they will not be forgiven!"
a. Forgiving is not "pick and choose" an option you want issue!
b. It is a mandatory part of being Christ-like.
"BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY WILL BE SHOWN MERCY."
Those who are forgiven and are forgivers are HAPPY PEOPLE. They are blessed.
CONCLUSION: "Grace" is getting what we don't deserve; "mercy" is NOT getting what we DO deserve! When we deserved Hell because of our sins Christ instead gave us forgiveness and the promise of Heaven. This is both grace and mercy. When others sin against us they too may deserve punishment, but in mercy we give them forgiveness even as God has forgiven us. Those who are FORGIVERS will be FORGIVEN, and those who are not forgivers, will not be forgiven. Are you merciful?