Saturday, June 10, 2017

Forgiveness in Matthew 18

Outline of my Life Group Lesson this week.  

Jesus uses a parable that might not actually be a “made up” story.  It might be that a servant or steward of a rich man tried to pull something like this, that is, he obtained forgiveness from his boss and then tried to imprison someone who owed him money, and that others in the community knew about it.  Although the amounts of money are not realistic, the scenario is.  We have all known people who obtained grace and mercy but couldn’t pass it on.  We have all known people who could not see their own sin but saw and judged less sin in others. The question is, do we see ourselves in the parable?

I.  Read it, 18:15-ff. 
A.  Why does Jesus tell this story?  Peter’s question, arising from Jesus words about how to deal with a sinning brother:  deal with him personally, then bring a friend, then take it to the congregation.  If it’s big enough to take to others, it must be big (not just a personal slight).
B.  What are your first impressions?

II.  Forgiveness is about sin
A.  Sin is a debt.  “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
1.  Definition of forgiveness:  releasing the person from judgment, punishment, and revenge.  Act of the will and hopefully the emotions will follow. 
2. Being annoyed by someone or slighted by them doesn’t necessarily mean they sinned against us. 
3.  What does constitute sin against you? 
B.  How much was/is our debt to God? 
1.  Jesus’ big question:  Has anyone sinned against us as much as we sinned against God?
2.  Forgiveness is not saying the act against you doesn’t matter anymore, doesn’t have consequences, or didn’t hurt you.  This is one of the things we misunderstand.
3.  I tend to think that forgiveness is not possible without the cross.

III.  Forgiveness is about our relationship with God.
            A.  Obedience requires forgiveness.  Eph. 4:32.  Matthew 18. 
B.  The Scripture is very clear that willful refusal to forgive someone indicates you do not understand God’s forgiveness and there will be consequences. 

IV.  Forgiveness is about our relationship with others.
A.  Do we, can we forgive those who do not or will not repent?
B.  Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified them because they were ignorant of what they were doing.  Does that apply to us?

V.  Forgiveness is about our relationship with ourselves and knocking down barriers to spiritual growth.  Forgiveness can be the hardest thing for many people.      

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