"Beware if you don't forgive"- Matthew 18:21-35

“Beware if you don’t forgive”

Matthew 18:21-35


This Week’s Core Virtue

Love - I sacrificially and unconditionally love and forgive others.

1 John 4:10-12 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

The Message of this Passage:  

General Idea: Peter is seeking a rule or a way to put a limit on forgiveness. He figures seven times was a lot-possibly more than Jesus would require-but Jesus responds with the call that forgiveness is not limited. It is actually the canceling of a debt. It is as if someone owed you one thousand dollars, but he or she could not pay you back. You forgive the debt, which means you never expect to receive the money back. The amount owed to you is no longer owed or expected. You give up your right to seek the repayment of that debt. 

 As Christians, we who have been saved and have received His mercy are called to give mercy to others when we are wronged! Refusing to forgive makes us the ones who destroy relationships and forfeit the opportunity to glorify our Lord. We imprison ourselves in isolation, cutting ourselves off from real life and from seeing God's redemptive power in action. Unforgiveness is a price that is way too high for anyone to pay, especially a believer. Forgiveness gives us the freedom to move on and to build bridges for right relationships and growth. Unforgiveness blows up those bridges that we must cross if we would obtain personal healing and maturity.

For followers of Christ, the goal is to become increasingly like Him, and one of the best ways to reflect His character is through forgiveness. Yet sometimes this is a quality we are reluctant to demonstrate because it seems so unfair, especially if the wrong done to us is ongoing or particularly painful. To forgive appears to diminish the offense and counteract justice. Through this parable we learn that; as God’s forgiven, redeemed, and reconciled, we cannot take the forgiveness of an insurmountable debt from God’s hand, and then with our own hands demand repayment from those who owe us, or have wronged us. While this does not mean that we become a doormat for those who would walk all over us, it does mean that we do not live like the unregenerate servant who did not understand and appreciate the debt that had been forgiven of him.

For Discussion:

  • Why do you think Jesus told this story to Peter?

  • The Jewish principle was to forgive someone up to 3 times, but not to go beyond that. How does Jesus’ response in verse 22 lead into the parable? What was Jesus saying?

  • What are the alternatives practiced by people who do not forgive?

  • What effects does not practicing forgiveness have on our lives?

  • What would you put on a list of the most difficult things to forgive?

  • What do you make of Jesus’ warning in v35?  

  • The sermon proclaimed that “All of us have been forgiven far more than we will ever forgive!” Do you grasp that?

  • A friend who’s not a Christian can’t see they have anything in their life to ask God’s forgiveness for and doesn’t understand what the big deal is about asking God’s forgiveness. What do you say to them to help them understand?

C.S. Lewis said, “ Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have something to forgive.” Think about the contrast that forgiveness creates. When we need to be forgiven for something, forgiveness is beautiful and we want mercy. Yet, often times when we need to forgive someone else, we are hesitant because we want justice.