Day 34: “Forgiveness!” Part Two: 09.25.2018
Matthew 6:12-15 (NIV) “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:12-15 (NLT2) “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
In our last article, we were looking at the parable our Lord told about forgiveness. Remember that the man’s debt would have been in the billions.
Matthew 18:23-34 (NIV) “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.”
This is quite fascinating. Surely the man knew the amount of his debt and yet he boldly insisted that he could pay it! We read:
Matthew 18:26-27 (NIV) “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”
At this point, it would be extremely easy to overlook a salient factor. This should really stand out. Namely, the servant’s master did not say “Oh that is ridiculous! You know very well that you could never pay this!” Instead, the master says nothing. The master knows the man is desperate, embarrassed and frightened. But we read that he “took pity” on him. It literally includes a marvelous Greek word “splagneedzo-my” … related to our word for “spleen.” In other words, pain “in the gut!” Jesus is portraying the master as being so moved with pity that he could feel the angst of the man who was begging! The same word is used in several places including this one:
Matthew 14:13-14 (NIV) “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
Jesus was deeply moved. He felt a “punch to the gut” in this word picture! He was overcome with compassion. Our God is compassionate and deeply concerned for those made in His image. Many times, over the years, I have met with Christians who simply could not believe that God could forgive them for some sin or sins. That lack of understanding comes from a lack of knowing God for who He really is! Allow me to go with you to Psalm 103:
Psalm 103:8-14 (NIV) “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
Why does God not “treat us as our sins deserve?” Because He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are only dust! What a marvelous statement! This means that God knows we are only created beings made from the elements. Dust of the earth with spirits inclined to sin because of our fallen natures. BUT HERE IS THE POINT: God UNDERSTANDS OUR SINFUL SITUATION FAR BETTER THAN WE DO! And that situation fills him with pity. So, consider that our predicament gives God pain in his inner self. What happened next? Outrageous! We read:
Matthew 18:28-31 (NIV) “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.”
This same Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors!” That is exactly what the man in the parable was supposed to do! He heard the other fellow beg him, just as he had begged, but instead of showing him the same grace that the master had shown him, the forgiven man tried to choke him and had him thrown into jail. Note that the amount owed to him was tiny compared to what he had owed his master. Yet, he had no sense of how good the master had been to him and how cruel he was being to the other man!
Ok … this should be a terrifying parable to the person who will not forgive. Why? Because he or she simply does not grasp that they are themselves worthy of endless punishment. Jesus portrays God and Judgment Day through the master’s actions in the parable:
Matthew 18:32-35 (NIV) “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.”
He was turned over until he could pay the debt. But he could never repay it. Thus, he would be in jail forever. In other words, he was sentenced to eternal Hell. Is that what Jesus meant in this parable? Again:
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
What works against us in the effort to forgive? Not what but who! The evil one will try with all his might to keep the unforgiving man in a state of unforgiveness. The devil will try daily to tempt a person to remain hard-hearted, but a true disciple must readily forgive others. In the end, our attitude and actions regarding forgiveness are the key metrics.
Blessings! Pastor Alberta