This week’s series is called 70X7, on the gift of forgiveness, and I want you to know something about it… It’s not going to be heavy and dark. It’s going to be light because that’s the reason Jesus encourages you and I to forgive one another. He understands that we need help when it comes to the tricky places in life, the gray areas, the areas in which we hurt the most, and our Lord does not shy away from any of it. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. Forgiveness sets you free.
Okay, let’s jump into Matthew 18 and get after it, shall we?!
- Andy Stanley Quote: “In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another.”
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In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy, but in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another.
Some powerful words from Andy Stanley, and they kick off our time together today on the Bible for Busy People. I’m Erica, and we’re going to talk about the gift of forgiveness. Chances are you’ve received it. I know I have. And chances are you’ve had to give this gift. Both can be very hard. Sometimes they can happen on the same day, and this is because we’re humans. And one of the things I love about Jesus, and there are many, is that he understands us. He understands that we need help when it comes to the tricky places in life, the gray areas, the areas in which we hurt the most, and our Lord does not shy away from any of it. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. And I want you to know something about our series this week. It’s not going to be heavy and dark. It’s going to be light because that’s the reason Jesus encourages you and I to forgive one another.
Forgiveness sets you free.
That’s why it’s such a powerful gift that you can give to somebody. So, what do you say you and I dive right into the Word? We’re jumping into a conversation that Jesus is having with other people just like you and me. They’ve got questions like we do, and Jesus has really good answers so we can be encouraged. We’re going to be diving into Matthew chapter 18. We’re going to begin in verse 21 with a big question from Peter. Now, I love Peter, because he was never afraid to ask to speak up, and that means you and I don’t have to be shy with our questions either. So join me now. Verse 21, Matthew chapter 18. Here we go.
Then Peter came to him…
and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
He thinks he’s being generous, right? I get it.
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
Okay, that’s a lot. As a matter of fact, it’s so much that I think it’s a good idea… I’m pulling out the calculator on my iPhone right now. Let’s do the math, okay? 70 times seven is 490 times, and I know there’s somebody you’re thinking about right now going, I think I have forgiven them more than 490 times. That’s good, because when you and I forgive, we’re setting ourselves free. We think somehow that we’re hurting the other person by holding onto it, but it’s just like holding poison inside of us. It only poisons us, and that’s why Jesus wants you and I to forgive. It’s why he gives us the prescription. That’s what it is. It’s because forgiveness is good for you physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, psychologically. And I’m going to share with you something I learned from a special woman in my life, I call her grandma Helen, coming up in moments. But first, Jesus is going to illustrate the gift of forgiveness with the story. So verse 23, now in Matthew 18,
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. 26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. 28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? This just happened. This man just did this himself.
But his creditor wouldn’t wait.
In this case.
He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. 31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Boy, those are some pretty serious words from Jesus, aren’t they? And he’s telling you and I that if we are to expect mercy from God, we must extend it to others. But here’s the thing, and this is what I know about God, and this is why you and I can be encouraged right now. God knows it’s good for us. He knows how we’re going to feel when we release that ugly thing that we’re clinging onto. I always like to picture a cat with a dead mouse in its mouth. We don’t want to carry that stuff around. It’s not good for us. And God knows that. He wants us to remember how much we’ve been forgiven. We’ve received Niagara Falls style forgiveness, and sometimes it just feels like we want to give forth a tiny little stream of forgiveness. But with God’s help, we can do it.
A dear woman in my life, I call her Grandma Helen once said, you get out of bed every morning and you put one foot on the ground and you say, I forgive this person. Say it every day, and one morning, it might take years, you’re going to wake up and you’re going to know in your heart, there’s a feeling you’re going to get and you’re going to know I’ve done it. With God’s help, I have been able to forgive this person. Next time you and I meet, I’m going to share with you a story about how this happened to me recently, somebody I prayed for years to forgive. I woke up one morning and something happened. Something changed. I want to give you hope. So, join me here next time on the Bible for Busy People. Thank you so much for listening, and remember, you are really loved.
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