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 Jesus. To answer Peter’s question Jesus tells a story of what the kingdom of heaven is like.
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
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, the King who is compassionate, hates injustice, hates offences, wants to settle accounts, wipe off debts and restore a relationship of no offence or obligation. The King wants to raise up His servants to be like Him and 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. Not only does He desire to settle accounts to open the way for an equal relationship based on free choice, but He also actions that desire. Using His power to raise others up and set people free.
The servant caused great offence to the King, owing more than he could ever earn or pay back. As a result the servant becomes a slave to his debt. His whole life and family are now obligated to pay for the offence he has caused. Pay for the debt for all the wrongs he has done. To a person from a Jewish tribe slavery and being in debt was greatly offensive to them. Yet the flesh or selfishness of humanity demands that the debt must be paid.
Slavery is the way of the world. This is not the way of the king or His kingdom.
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 and evil of humanity, especially the offences humanity has done to each other.
Yet 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 human to take upon Himself all the offences, all the evil of humanity done against God and each other. He became the perfect sacrifice to not only release humanity from the slavery of these offences but to totally defeat them for all eternity.
God Himself was the one who was offended, yet He was the one who initiated forgiveness, became the sacrifice and paid the cost.
the cost of forgiveness
In Jesus’ sacrifice it cost God everything of Himself. The King forgave and released the servant from all offences done to him.
When the one who is offended initiates forgiveness, release and reconciliation occurs.
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 had not been 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 nature demands that someone has got to pay!
Like the servant we could never pay back the debt of all the offences we have done to God.
As long as we try to pay back the debt, we miss the revelation of God’s forgiveness and ultimate sacrifice of Himself paying our debt in full.
Jesus has paid the cost for all offences. That is in time past, time present and time future.
When we forget we have been forgiven of our offences we tend to hang onto the offence done to us and identify ourselves with that offence. We remain in captivity. A slave to the offence and to unforgiveness.
the kingdom of relationships
Our relationship with Jesus is directly reflected in how we feel about others. We can test our spiritual health by how we release others from offences done against us.
Now please hear what I am saying, 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.
To be fully healed from the hurt, pain, rejection, inequality, abuse and whatever offence that has been done and be released from identifying with it, the person who has been offended against must initiative forgiveness. Let go of it all. In letting go of it all the one who has been offended effectively releases those who have done the offence from the obligation to pay.
In the place of the offender paying the cost, receive God’s payment on behalf of you and on behalf of them. This is the enormity and value of God’s own sacrifice and payment of all offences of all humanity.
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.’
In this context the ‘torturers’ 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 need to get this unforgiveness out of you, as it will only harm you. This unforgiveness is blocking you from receiving the fullness of my love. You no longer are identified with unforgiveness or the abuse as you are identified with me. Let the offences done to you and the offenders go. Forgive and release all obligation of them having to pay. I have paid for them too.’
When you live with unforgiveness you actually identify yourself with that offence and that abusive situation becomes a stronghold over you. It has control over you, gets into your thoughts, heart and every aspect of your life. Unless you let go of unforgiveness it can take root and become part of you. As a result you become a slave to it.
God does not approve of offences done to each other. He does not approve of abuse. He hates such evils and is grieved by them.
To forgive is to break relationship with that moment of pain.
Then that moment of pain then is no longer a stronghold.
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 does everything out of love. God challenges and presses us with the truth, to set us free. Forgiveness is a free gift from God. He’s paid the cost of all offences on the cross. So that we can continually receive that forgiveness and live in the reality of being forgiven.
Ephesians 4:30 ‘And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.’
Furthermore all who have received Jesus are sealed with His Holy Spirit. His Spirit is a Spirt of unity. God is grieved when offences are done to each other. Therefore the Apostle Paul reminds us that we are forgiven. It is because we are forgiven that we can let go of everything that holds another 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.
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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