Topic: Forgiveness and being forgiven. Category: Kingdom> Bible Scriptures: Matthew 18:21-35 and Ephesians 4:31-32.
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Let me ask you a question. If someone causes offence to me, how many times do I forgive that person?
This is the same question Peter asked of Jesus. To answer Peter’s question Jesus tells a story of what the kingdom of heaven is like.
First I’ll read the entire story so we can receive the full picture. Then we journey through one verse at a time.
Matthew 18:21-35 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
a certain king
To answer Peter’s question of how many times he should forgive someone who causes offence to him, Jesus tells a story of what the kingdom of heaven is like.
Verse 23 ‘Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.’
The kingdom of heaven is like the King. Who is compassionate and hates injustice. The king who hates offences and wants to settle accounts. The King who wipes off debts and restores relationships. Relationships of no offence or obligation. The king who wants to raise His servants up to be like Him, in equal relationship with Him.
the kingdom reflects the king
Verses 24-25 ‘And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.’
The King is someone of honour. He not only desires to settle accounts to open the way for an equal relationship based on free choice, but also actions that desire. Using His power to set people free.
The servant caused great offence to the King. Owing the King more than he could ever earn or pay back. The cost of such offence is that he and his family will be sold.
The servant becomes a slave to his debt and so does his family. The servant’s whole life and his family are now obligated to pay for the offence he has caused. Pay for the debt and all the wrongs he has done.
That is the way of the world, not the kingdom of heaven which Jesus is about to reveal. Slavery and being in debt to a person from the tribe of Jewish blood at the time of Peter’s question was greatly offensive to them. Yet the selfishness of humanity demands the debt must be paid.
the king is rich in mercy
Verses 26-27 ‘The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.’
Yet the King who is rich in mercy and compassion, forgives the servant and releases the servant from all debt and offences done against him.
God Himself has throughout the history of mankind continually been offended against by the rebellion of evil and humanity, especially the offences that humanity has done to each other.
Jesus reveals that God Himself and His kingdom is like the king in this story, rich in mercy, full of compassion, and has forgiven all of humanity for all the offences and evils done against Him and against each other.
God Himself paid the debt, became the flesh and blood sacrifice to take upon Himself all the offences, all the evil of humanity has done to God and each other. He paid the cost for us not only to release us from the slavery of these offences, but to totally defeat their destructive forces for all eternity.
God Himself was the one who was offended, yet He was the one who initiated forgiveness and became the sacrifice and paid the cost. In Jesus sacrifice, it cost God everything of Himself.
Let us read on.
the cost of forgiveness
Verse 28 ‘“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’’
Forgiveness was given to the servant, yet the servant was not changed by the experience.
The servant had forgotten that he himself had greatly offended, owed a great debt, even greater debt than that which was owed to him and that he was forgiven. The servant held onto all the offences done unto him. As a consequence the servant was not changed by his experience of being forgiven and having his debt cancelled. Not only did the servant hold onto to all the offences done unto him, but also sought out the offender in anger, violently demanding justice.
The justice of the flesh or selfish desires of humanity demands that someone has got to pay!
Like the servant we could never pay back the debt of all the offences we have ever said thought or done. When we forget we have been forgiven of all offences, we tend to hang onto the offence done to us and start to identify ourselves with that offence. We become trapped in that offence, in captivity or slave to the offence. A slave to unforgiveness.
the kingdom of relationships
It is important to remember that we have been forgiven and in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus,
the debt is paid in full. Jesus has paid the cost of all offences in time past, offences in time present and offences in time future.
Not only has Jesus paid the cost of all my offences done to others but all the cost of any offences done to me. How we release others from offences done against us, is a direct reflection to the revelation that we have been forgiven and Jesus has paid the cost.
To be fully healed from the hurt, pain, the rejection, the inequality, the abuse, whatever offence that has been done, the person who has been offended against must initiative forgiveness. That is surrender the hurt, the pain, let go of it all.
Any form of abuse or offences against one another are not of the kingdom of God. Abuse is wrong and God takes very seriously abusive behaviour.
His kingdom is a kingdom of equality and respect, love, forgiveness and healing.
In letting go of it all the one who has been offended effectively releases those who have done the offence from obligation to pay. Jesus became the sacrifice to pay the cost, which is more than enough payment.
In the place of the offender having to pay, we can receive God’s payment on behalf of self wanting justice. This is the enormity and value of God’s own sacrifice and payment of all offences of all humanity. Offences in time past, time present and time future.
unforgiveness creates a block
Verse 32-34 ‘Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.’ ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.’
If we remember we are forgiven, we then can in His forgiveness in us, surrender the hurt and pain and forgive others.
The torturers here in this verse means to be pressed for the truth. God is not condemning anyone who is holding onto unforgiveness. What Jesus is saying is because I love you, I have paid the cost for this. Give any unforgiveness to me before it destroys you.
Unforgiveness becomes a destructive force within the one who has been offended against. When we live with unforgiveness, we actually identify ourself with that offence and that abusive situation becomes a stronghold. It has destructive power that can get into our thoughts, heart and every aspect of your life.
But praise God we can remember Jesus has paid the cost. In the revelation of being forgiven we can give the hurt and pain to Jesus.
To forgive is to break relationship with that moment of pain.
Then that moment of pain is no longer a stronghold and we can be truly free.
forgiveness is freedom
Verse 35 ‘“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”’
God loves us so much, He will do anything to bring us into receiving His forgiveness and being transformed by that reality. Who Jesus sets free is free indeed.
Therefore God in His great love presses us with the truth, so we can be truely free. The truth is, we are forgiven. Forgiveness is a free gift from God. For Jesus has paid the cost of all offences on the cross.
It is a daily journey to live in the reality of letting go of all offences. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are forgiven. As a result let go of everything that holds in bondage.
Ephesians 4:31-32 ‘Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
The Kingdom of Heaven is founded on forgiveness and rooted in love.
Jesus reveals that God Himself and His kingdom is like the king in this story. Who is rich in mercy and full of compassion. Who has forgiven all of humanity for all the offences said, thought or done against each other and as a result, against Him.
God Himself was the one who was offended. Yet He was the one who initiated forgiveness and became the sacrifice and paid the cost. So that we could believe we are forgiven and receive the forgiveness that is eternally there for us.
I would like to share with you a poem of what forgiveness means to me. It is titled To Be Forgiven.
To be forgiven… is like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
To be forgiven… is a way to make things right.
To be forgiven… is the key to healing.
To be forgiven… is to be able to forgive myself.
To be forgiven… is the ultimate act of love.
To be forgiven… is to be a child of God.
To be forgiven… is the freedom to embrace.
To be forgiven… is to receive, God’s free gift, of grace!
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