The secret of forgiveness
Mathew 18:23-35; BCBC/IOUC; 3/21/2021; Rev. Paul Wang
Forgiveness may be one of the most difficult things in our life, right? I remembered that my father once told me that, human heart is evil, so never displease the others! My experience tells me that, we are incapable in front of hatred or forgiveness. Do you agree?
In today’s scriptures, Jesus teaches us how to handle the forgiveness to the others. It may touch our past nerves, or even trigger our memories about some suffering things or feelings. Let us look at the first point:
You and I are all debtors
Do you still remember the three things we need to look at as a believer? Value others over yourselves, think of yourself with sober judgement, face God with continuing debt. First, be prepared to give account. Never try to escape. Jesus has taught it clearly: Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. (Matthew 18:23) God want to settle accounts with us. We have to submit our account. Are you ready? Whether being prepared or not will influence the form of our life. Be lazy or alert? Godly or unbridled? Disciplined or careless? To get up early or late? To share gospel frequently or never care about it? If God come tonight, are you prepared? What have you prepared? Two empty hands, or the fruit of holy spirit as gift to God?
Second, be prepared to be forgiven. Owing ten thousand bags of gold, what should we do? We have to settle debts with assets! Without assets, then? During the time of human trafficking, we can use our wife and children as our assets to pay back the debt. Which means you have to take out your most valuable things for paying back the debt. Now, you have nothing, right? May I ask, where is your way out? Your parents ignore you, pastor is indifferent to you, and friends are far away from you. Besides loneliness, helplessness be with you! What should we do? In the scripture, the servant call for help from God, and you also can, right? The problem is, are your prepared to call for help from God? Or continue to rely on yourself to prepare in dollars, stocks, and real estate but no preparations about to be forgiven? Never call for help from God, how can you be forgiven?
Lastly, be prepared to forgive others. This is another issue, that is, God have forgiven us but we do not forgive others. Let along forgiving others, we are not even being prepared for it, right? Verse 26, At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ’Be patient with me,’ he begged, ’and I will pay back everything.’ (Matthew 18:26) Worship should be our life form or attitude. Calling for help from God is our worship. It is always ignored by us, right? We are incapable of forgiving others unless we call for help from God. That does not mean that we could be irresponsible. So, the servant’s request is: ’Be patient with me, ’ he begged, ’and I will pay back everything.’ From the viewpoint of human being, forgiveness is one thing, to pay back the debt is another. To worship God, pray to God, and be responsible, are the three prerequisites to be prepared to forgive others. Let us look at the second point:
You and I should forgive others
Forgiveness is not just saying but the right thing in God’s eyes. Being prepared is to live out the life of forgiveness clearly. First, the extension of grace. This is how God treat us, so we should do the same to others. Verse 27, the scripture said, The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. These are the trilogy of extension of grace: Being touched, released, forgiving a debt. We should extend God’s grace to those who owe debt to us. The heart being touched should be kind heart rather than hard heart. To forgive the other’s faults is to release our soul. To remit the other’s debt is to imitate the role model that God worked on us. Are you willing to let your life be the channel of life and let God’s grace extend through you? This is the life mission God give us. Are you willing to complete it?
Second, old nature reappears. In the extension of God’s grace, our old nature will challenge our bottom line. After the servant came out by God’s grace, he had an fellow. Please be noticed that, it is a fellow. Fellow means person with similarity or almost the same situation. This fellow owes the servant a hundred silver coins, what should the servant do? No need to ask. Old nature says: To pay back the debt is justified. Where is the extension of grace? Not only so, he told his accompany the trilogy of old self: pulling, pinching, and pressing for repayment of debt. The servant forgot the trilogy of extension of grace given by God previously, right? Do you remember? Being touched, released, forgiving a debt. If you do not remit other’s debt, it is like you owed a new debt again to God.
Lastly, to bear the consequence. Have you every considered the consequence? I guess you might not think about the consequence, right? Maybe you think that no one knows I do not forgive others and no one can discipline me. This fluke mind is intolerable because justice has long arms! If you do not forgive others, do you think the other fellow will not know that? The Bible said, his fellow begged him, ’Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’(Matthew18:29) However, there is no extension of God’s grace from him but the abruption, distortion, deformation. The Bible said:’But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.’(Matthew 18:30) He is so bold that he did not consider the consequence completely. Let us look at the third point:
Forgiving one another, then God will forgive
Human being is individual but in the same time we are social group, do you understand this? No one of us can live in this world individually, let along live in front of God. First, to forgive one another and testify for God. From the previous point ’the law of extension’, we should forgive others as God have forgiven us, right? This servant did not forgive his fellow, do you know what will happen? The Bible said he provoked the anger of the servants: ’When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.’ On the other words, if he forgave his fellow’s debt of a hundred silver coins, what will happen? That is to love each other! When the other servants see this, they will recognize that we are the disciples of Jesus Christ, right?
Second, to forgive one another and live out God. Some one said, to live out the godly life is extremely difficult, do you agree? The challenge is the unwillingness of our heart. We do not care about living a godly life, right? Today’s scripture told us clearly that we are capable to live out God’s will. This servant prayed that: ’Lord, be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ Lord just forgave him. When his fellow said the same to him: ’Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ This servant has a model to follow, right? How God treated you, you treat others the same, can you? The Bible has prepared all the details even how we should say a word, so there is no excuse to say that we do not know how to act!
Finally, to forgive one another and to please the Lord. To please the Lord is what we should do as God’s children, right? The Bible gave us an opposite example on how to displease God. When we do not forgive our fellows, God’s wrath is always on us. In fact, God is also the injured, do you agree? God said to the servant: ’You wicked servant,’ he said, ’I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’(Matthew 18:33)
Dear brothers and sisters, today’s sermon ’the secret of forgiveness’ is finished. Do you understand? You and I are the ones owe debt to God, and have nothing to brag about, agree? Because God forgive us, you and I should forgive others, do you agree? The reason for us to be forgiven by God is because of our forgiveness to one another, do you understand?
18:23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
18:24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.
18:25 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.
18:26 At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’
18:27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
18:28 But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
18:29 His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
18:30 But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
18:31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
18:32 Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
18:33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
18:34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
18:35 This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.