Matthew 18: 21-35



If you are going to have any kind of close relationship you are going to need to forgive

People do things to offend others, intentional or unintentional. They are short with one another– for some waking up in the morning is a process and you don’t rush it (or them). Some forget to clean up after themselves. Some repeatedly do things the other has repeatedly asked them not to do, like leave your shoes on the living room floor. We self centered forget about the needs of others- he comes home and doesnt even ask me about my day or all she wants to talk about is her day. Why does mom talk to me with that tone that seems to imply I never listen to her. Sometimes the big things are no problem but if he leaves the cap off the toothpaste one more time… 

Sometimes things are said poorly, or things are said that should never have been said. We see family at their absolute best, and also their absolute worst. 

There is much that we can make light of. But there are serious things in families and marriages. The harsh criticism and words of a parent. When words cut deep and wound and become abusive. 

If you are going to have close friends, you are going to need to learn to forgive. You are going to have to learn how to approach the other when they have done something wrong. 

To love is to open yourself to being hurt, to being vulnerable. And when we are hurt by others we can harbor bitterness and anger. We become calloused. So there is a universal need for forgiveness that restores our humanity and capacity to love and be loved, and this can only be found in Jesus. 

In Jesus we are forgiven a massive debt of sins, and that forgiveness allows us to forgive others of their sin. 

The Ongoing Need for Forgiveness

[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?"

This passage begins with Peter asking Jesus how many times his brother will sin against him and he will have to forgive him. Up to seven? Peter probably thinks that pretty generous. Peter assumes there is a limit. At some point the excuses run empty. At some point the mounting injustices, of you not being punished by me, runs out. At some point you cut them off. At some point you retaliate. At some point you withhold your love and affection. 

Loved ones will sin against you. He is referring to a brother. This is someone in a close relationship. Not a foreigner, not one of those people, but a brother, one of your own family. 

Jesus tells him not 7 but 70x7. His saying this is not to say that we get a spreadsheet and track every offense and when we get to 491 then we let them have it. IT is to show Peter is a great multitude off from where he should be. 

Jesus has just taught the disciples on how to rebuke a fellow believer when they sin. He tells them to discuss it with the person first. If he doesn't repent then you take another. The principle there being if you can't find another who agrees with you then you drop. But if two go to him and he doesn't respond then you tell it to the church. If he still doesn't respond you treat him as an unbeliever. The question here is one sees that what they did was wrong and they ask for your forgiveness. At what point are you right to withhold forgiveness. 

  • The Release of a Debt

Forgiveness means to pardon. 

Pardon: To release (a person) from punishment or disfavor for wrongdoing or a fault: synonym: forgive.

Peter asks, how many times will my brother sin against me… He is concerned with what his brother has done to him.

Transgression. When someone sins against you, they have crossed the line of what is morally acceptable before God. That is what a sin is. Sin is a transgressing of the commands of God. Transgress is to cross over. Regress is to go backwards, progress is to go forward, transgress is to cross over something. 

One of the things that people do not like about Christianity is its objective teaching of morals. They do not like it because it means there is an objective reality to how good they are. 

Just like everyone is a great driver until you ask them how often they transgress the speed limit. Do you stop at every stop sign or do you slow down and pass through. For people that do not believe in God, it doesn't mean they don't have a standard, but it probably means they have their own standard. Everyone has a standard that others must conform to, it's just a matter of what is it. Pride and arrogance leads us to think everyone should conform to what we want. 

We get angry with people when they sin against us, because they have crossed over a line they should not have crossed, and this hurts us. 

Sinning is equated with a debt. You have done something and you now owe the person you sinned against. You have taken something that belonged to the other. Maybe money, maybe possession, maybe honor. Forgiveness therefore is like the releasing of a debt. 

Not forgiving people means you still want them punished. It means you want them to suffer and hurt for what they have done. If you are focused on that you will never thrive and fully live. You need to trust God with what he will do. 

Debt. The one doing the wrong rightly owes the person who was wronged. He has caused a suffering. For restoration the debt must be paid. It could be paid by the person that has offended, but he likely cannot make up what was taken away. So this means the person who was offended has to let go of the debt. It means that you absorb the cost. He owes me $500. I m going to release it. I absorb the $500. It requires absorbing the offense.  People who are broke cannot absorb debt. How can we forgive the offenses of another. 

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” Carrie Fisher.

  • The Well Spring of forgiveness

If there is a cost of forgiveness, how do we find the ability to continually pay that cost? This is where the kingdom of God comes into understanding. 

Understanding the kingdom of heaven, and your relationship with God in the age to come, is key to you being able to experience and extend forgiveness now. It is key to you being a loving and compassionate person.  

This is what is at the heart of unforgiveness. We are not willing to let go of our loss for what they want to give us. Why would God forgive us. 

[23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants

One thing this parable brings up is there is king whose servants have a debt with him. This connects with God, whom we have sinned against. If we have sinned, we have transgressed God’s standard. We have defamed him. We have not just sinned against our brother, we have sinned against God. And my brother has not just sinned against me. He has sinned against God. The only way his glory can be restored is if the offender is punished.

This takes us right to the source of forgiveness. It is seeing how much God has forgiven us. This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. He is using it to teach us about life with God. 

[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. 

A Talent is a measurement of weight of about 70-80 pounds. 

1 Talent= 70lbs

70lbsx 16oz =1120

1120x $2390= $2,676,800

X 10,000= $26,767,000,000

This man is in a hole. Elon Musk net worth size hole. Not, in this time it was not to press these figures. The numerical term here is simply the largest term in the greek language. It is an inordinate amount.  

He falls on his knees and begs for mercy.  What more can you do in that place? He assumes the state of a worshiper in desperation. HE begs him to have mercy on him. 

“And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” (Mat 18:27 ESV). 

He forgave the debt. Can you imagine the relief this man would have experienced? Just think about what it would be like to go into the office day in and day out knowing, its not just that you are in a hole, but a billion dollar hole! What you did has caused you to lose your family, and not just lose them but now they are completely at the mercy of others. Then the unthinkable happens. Someone has mercy on you. They forgive your immense debt. A weight is lifted. 

This takes us to the heart of the gospel Jesus died for our sins, so that we could be forgiven. He is completely innocent and deserving of life with God. Yet he takes what our actions deserve (judgment), and he gives us what his actions deserve (blessing). 

And that is what God has forgiven us. The constant sin in thought word and deed. 

What value would you place on a sin? What would you pay to have all your lies removed? How about your really big lies? How much would you pay for the things you have done on your computer to not go public?

Sin 3 times a day. What is the value placed on every sin ($100, $1000)

356 days a year

1000 sins a year 

how old are you

We have a massive debt with God, and in Christ we are released from that debt. All your sins. Now justified. Just as if you had not sin. Forgiven. 

[2 cor 5:21 “God made him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

And if God has done this with us, forgiven us all our sins, past, present and future, then we should be able to forgive others. 

It's unthinkable what happens in this passage. A servant was forgiven 10000 talents. He should be able to go out and forgive others. And yet he goes out, finds one that owes him just a 100 denari (days wage), and he destroys him in efforts to get what is owed him. 

The forgiveness the great king showed to him is then compared to this one, who after being forgiven so much, went out and demanded and beat another fellow servant.

When we see what God has forgiven us, then we are able to release the debt others owe to us.

When we see our sins for what they are, and the sins of others for what they are, we recognize we are not greater than them. We are not more righteous. God is holy. And when they ask for forgiveness, we can extend it, because our heavenly Father forgives us when we do that. 

When we see what God has done for us, we find the power to forgive. Its at this point that we also see what unforgiveness is. 

Forgive from the heart. 

Unforgiveness is not just a less than ideal thing to do. It is called wickedness. It is an evil. In light of what God has done for us we ought to forgive others.

Do you want to see the work of Satan. It is not predominantly demon possession, horns coming out of the head, and heads spinning 360 degrees. Its the animosity and vengeance in unforgiveness. The inability to let go of things done to you. God has forgiven us, how ridiculous is it if we harbor grudges. 

We will one day stand at the judgment seat of God. So will our offenders. God will hold them accountable. He will hold you accountable. 

If we want to honor God, then we learn to forgive as he has forgiven us. We also find that in honoring him we find the ability to release unforgiven debts. We dont carry them around any more. We can be freed of them. 

  • The Exchange of Forgiveness

It begins with coming to the king. It begins with asking God to forgive what we have done. Until you have owned your sin you are going to be useless to help others much less to forgive them. 

Forgiveness must be asked for. They fell on their knees and begged. There was a clear ask. They knew the dire consequences of not receiving pardon. 

[26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me…' 

You don’t justify your sins

-I'm sorry if you were hurt by what I said.

-well I only said __ because you said __ first. 

-Let me do this in hopes that I get what I want. That is manipulative. 

I'm sorry I was angry. I'm sorry I didn't consider your feelings. 

Theological proposition: “People sin in all they do in thought, word and deed.” If that is true then forgiveness should be a regular part of life. Main difference in a Christian family/friends is not absence of sin, but that we request and grant forgiveness. It is healing. 

[Proverbs 28:13 “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

This affects how we relate to others. I messed up. I sinned. Will you forgive me? This is so different than saying, “Sorry ‘bout that, bro.” that side steps the issue. You have a debt you need to be released from. Ask them to forgive you. 

If someone has sinned against you, and they ask you for forgiveness. Don’t hold on to your bitterness. “Yeah, whatever.” You glossed over. You are holding on to it. Say, “I forgive you.” That is saying you are releasing the debt. 

Forgiveness must be received. Must be spoken. 

Signs you have not forgive: 

Bitterness. The root of bitterness is a foothold that Satan will use in your life. He is an accuser. He accuses and condemns. Makes you feel less accepted, less worthy. Makes you feel unaccepted. Unworthy. Unforgiven. 

Avoidance. Won't talk about it. Won't go to the other person. 

esus wants to do a work in your life. There is something of grace and forgiveness that you know nothing of. 

Caveat. We forgive but there may still be consequences to the actions of others. If someone is stealing from the company and they get caught. The owner can forgive them, and he still would need to fire them. And if you have done that your church probably would forgive you but they likely will not put you on the finance committee. Divorce. Can forgive but there might not be restoration of marriage.

Forgiveness is a lifelong process. It doesnt just happen once like going to the bank and paying your debt. You feel it every day. Jesus, you have forgiven me so much. I am entrusting this to you. 

You have to release the debt that others owe to you. STop keep tracking and thinking about how much you have been wronged. Start thinking about how much you have been forgiven. Stop trying to punish others and entrust them to God. He is the perfect judge and can make all things right. 

*With those who don't even ask for it. There are people who may never come to you to ask for forgiveness of what they have done to you. This parable still applies. You may need to go to them and ask them about what they did. Share your concern they sinned against God and you. They may agree with you. They may not. You also may never get to have that conversation with them. You may be unable to meet with them. They “get away with it.” Pray for them. The worst thing that can happen to them is they get away with it and never deal with it until the day of judgment. They will be held accountable. 

Yourself. You often hear it said in counseling, rehab session that the hardest person to forgive, is yourself. You cant forgive your self. Its not your standard that is your biggest problem. It is you casting aside God’s standard. When you see that, you fall on your feet and cry for mercy. If you ahve trouble forgiving yourself, you need to submit to Jesus. Your greatest need is not failing to live up to your standard. Your greatest need, is to be forgiven of your tresspasses against a holy God. He is so holy that one sin is enough to separate you from him for eternity. You have messed up greatly, you have failed, rebelled, and much more. 

A lot of counseling is people not trusting Jesus, and just wanting to rehearse and rehash their wrongs and bitterness. 

I have hurt others, and in Christ I have been forgiven. Not because I deserve it, not because I can pay it back, but because his love has made a way. He did not excuse it. Jesus intervened and died for me. So now I can forgive others. 

Have you forgiven people in your life? Have you released the debt? Are you still holding it over them? It gets tiring carrying that. It is exhausting. Everyone suffers, but often the one who suffers most is the one carrying the unforgiveness. 

Confess your anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, vindictiveness. 

Submitting to Christ by confessing your sins and 

To be one who extends forgiveness to others, you have to be one who has been forgiven by God. Don't skate it, don't minimize it. Own your mess. Confess. And know that your forgiveness is made possible because Jesus died for you. That was the price. Will you continue to hold on to your unforgiveness. Will you entrust it to God, and begin to live free of anger, bitterness, rage, depression.