Forgiving One Another
Taught August 6, 2023
Table of Contents
Watch & Listen
This week’s lesson is the last lesson within the second unit of lessons for this quarter where we have been taking a look at responding to God’s kingdom. As we have seen in recent weeks, we must not be hard-headed as disobedience leads to an eternal judgment of condemnation. However, when we listen to God and live in obedience, we know that we are rewarded with everlasting life. In our lesson this week, we will see the fact that nobody is perfect and that God completely understands the fact that none of us are perfect.
Living Under Grace
Something you hear me teach and preach about often is the fact that you and I live under the grace of God. What does that mean? Well, God’s grace is His unmerited love towards mankind. As sinners, there’s no reason that God should love us considering that we defile His creation. Yet, we know that because the only begotten Son was given, the Lord loves mankind.
Extending the love of God
What scripture makes very clear is that the love that the Lord has shown us should be shared with all of those around us. Too often, I feel like we as believers do a very poor job of extending the love that the Lord has shown us to others.
A few weeks ago, I referenced the seven churches of the book of Revelation, and spoke of the church of Ephesus, Sardis, and the Laodiceans. The church of Ephesus labored for the Lord but did not labor out of love (Rev. 2:1-5). The church in Sardis was a church of religion that, again, did not labor out of sincerity. The church of the Laodiceans was a lukewarm church that was apathetic in its heart.
The collective Church today has a heart that is seemingly becoming more and more lukewarm. When I was younger, I noticed a fire and passion in the Church that has been growing dimmer and dimmer. In order for our fire to be reignited, we have seen that we need to remember the Lord and remember to love.
Show mercy and forgiveness
For our lesson today, we see where in this chapter, Jesus had just spoken about how one ought to deal with one who trespasses against them. So, with that in mind, Peter approached Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times (v.21)?”
So, why did Peter settle on the number seven? Peter thought that forgiving another seven times was a very generous number, especially considering that he was likely taught to forgive someone at least three times. The idea of forgiving another three times falls back to scripture in Amos 1:3-15 where Amos quoted the Lord speaking of forgiving transgressions up to three times.
That being said, Jesus makes it very clear how one should go about forgiving others. Jesus said to Peter, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven (v.22).” Doing the math on the number that Jesus tells Peter here and you will get 490; that is a lot of forgiving for just one day, one week, one month, and maybe a year – which is exactly the point!
Listen, you can’t put a number on how many times you forgive someone. Do you know what that would do if you were to put a number on the proper times to forgive someone? You would create the “checklist” mentality where people would forgive up to the exact number and then stop; this is a mentality of religion. As you have heard me say before, the Lord does not desire religion, He desires true faith.
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
After saying this to Peter, Jesus began to teach a parable to further explain how forgiveness works. Jesus begins the parable by speaking about the kingdom of heaven being like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants (v.23). Who do you think the certain king represents in this parable? If you answered the Lord, then you have answered correctly.
A show of mercy
In desiring to settle accounts with his servants, one was brought to him that owed ten thousands talents (v.24). Talents, if you remember my teaching of the Parable of Talents, a talent was a measure to weigh metals, gold, etc. So, if this man owed 10,000 talents of gold, let’s just say he owed an amount of money that would be beyond our comprehension of understanding why he would borrow so much money!
So, because this man could not pay back the debts that he owed, the master was set to sell him, his wife, and children so that the debt could be paid back (v.25). Upon hearing this, the servant fell down and pleaded for the certain king to have patience with him as he would work to pay off his debt (v.26). So, the certain king being a compassionate man, released him and forgave his debt — the man was let go of the debt he owed!
Now, let me take a moment to dive into what has been shared here with us because this parable could be a bit confusing at first glance. For us, mankind, we have a great debt that we owe to the Lord, right?
You and I also owe a great debt to the Lord because of the many transgressions that we have committed against Him. You see, we cannot number the transgressions that we have committed against the Lord in a day, week, month, nonetheless our lifetime! We owe a great debt because the Lord gave us His only begotten Son to wipe away our sins.
One day, the Lord is going to judge us of our works! As we know, scripture tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). Will you be able to pay God back for the transgressions that you committed against Him during your lifetime? No person could do this!
So, within the parable, we see the man say to the certain king that he would work to pay off his debts. For us today, the only way that we can work to pay off our debt to the Lord is by having faith in Him and His only begotten Son. Through our faith in the Son, our debts are forgiven – relieved. You and I have nothing more to worry about when it comes to our debts, though the Lord asks of us to love Him and to love those around us as well (Matt. 22:36-40).
Love should be returned
Now, after this show of mercy from the certain king, what did the man go out and do? Jesus tells us that the servant went out, found someone that owed him money, and he laid his hands on the man’s throat demanding to be paid back! (v.28). So much for sharing the love and mercy with this man after he had been shown such love and mercy from the certain king.
Scripture tells us that the other man did not owe him nearly the amount of money that he owed the certain king; he was owed 100 denari. So, the other man pleaded for the man to have patience with him, but the man wouldn’t have patience with him! In fact, we are shown that the man threw the other into prison to work off the debt (vss.29-30).
How incredibly merciless this man was after he had received mercy from the certain king! Remember, the certain king was going to sell this man, his wife, and his children but relented. So, why did this man act out this way?
So, the man’s fellow servant saw his actions and was grieved. This servant then went and told of the other’s actions to the certain king (v.31). How do you suppose the certain king responded after hearing of the merciless actions of the servant he had shown mercy? As you probably guessed, the certain king was not happy!
The certain king called the merciless and unforgiving servant to him and got on him. The certain king said, “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 (vss.32-33)?”
This very question leads me to what is recorded in John’s gospel with Jesus teaching about loving others. Jesus stated, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34). The point Jesus was making is that if God forgives us and shows us mercy after all the wrong that we have committed against Him, then we should certainly do the same for those around us.
Love, we must understand just as Paul said, is longsuffering — it is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4). If your love comes without mercy and forgiveness, I would tell you that your love is not the love of God. Your love, I would then tell you, has gone bitter and cold; it needs to be reignited or else you would be like this merciless servant.
In his anger, we will see that the certain king sent the merciless servant to torturers until he could pay back the 10,000 talents that he owed (v.34). Jesus then concluded the parable by saying to Peter, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses (v.35).”
You and I cannot forget the love that God has shown us by mistreating others. We must always remember the love that the Lord has shown us and let that mindset guide us when it comes to how we treat others.