Here are my sermon notes for The Value of Forgiveness, from Matthew 18.21-35.
Notice five things about forgiveness:
- Forgiveness is reciprocal (23-28: “So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him,… And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’”) Why should we forgive people who do us wrong? Because God has forgiven us. If God has been gracious to you, you must be gracious to others. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those …”
- Forgiveness is concrete (26-27: “That same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’”) Forgiveness is not about how you feel towards a person. It’s about actions. How we know that the servant didn’t forgive? Because he had his hands around the other servant’s throat!
- Forgiveness is humbling (28-30: “His fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.”) When people wrong us, it makes us feel superior to them. We can gossip about them, plot against them, say all kinds of things about them behind their back. Forgiveness makes us release our superiority over that person.
- Forgiveness is expensive (24: “One was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.”) What did it cost the king to forgive the servant? What does it cost God to forgive us?
- Forgiveness is necessary. We cannot live without forgiveness, because we will always need it. Forgiveness doesn’t change the past, but it opens up the future.
Five ways you can grow in forgiving others:
- Celebrate the forgiveness you’ve received. Every time someone sins against you, run to the cross and remember how you have been forgiven.
- Determine that restoring relationships is more important than being superior.
- Work at it, and keep working at it. God knows what you are capable of and what you’re not capable of. He doesn’t expect you to do more than able, but he does expect you to do what you can.
- Continue to grow more like Jesus. Forgiveness and grace are part of his character. As you grow and mature in other areas, you will grow here as well.
- Give your injuries to God. Pray them out honestly. Let the psalms be your guide.