Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Forgiveness Imperative.

Mt 18:21-35
Mat 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candor in television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, "What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me."

It cannot be stressed enough how imperative it is that we learn to forgive. Never are we more like God than when we forgive another their trespasses against us. It has been said, to err is human, but to forgive is Divine.

It is highly therapeutic for us to grant forgiveness to another. Our Lord modeled this for us in His commentary on the Lord's Prayer when He said, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt 6:14,15.

Three quick thoughts I would like to share with you here:

1. The Quantity of Forgiveness - 70x7. That's 490 times, in case you were are tabulating. But then, by that time, who's counting?

2. The Ratio of Forgiveness - Christ forgave us tens of thousands of our sins. Think about it, if you sinned 3 ONLY times a day, that would be 20 sins a week, 80 per month, 1000 sins a year. If you lived your threescore and ten, you would have to stand before a righteous, holy God with 70,000 sins for which to answer! Talk about hopeless!!! But every one of those sins against God's holiness is washed away in the blood of Jesus, completely forgiven, covered in mercy & grace.

Yet we quibble about forgiving someone else of 4 or 5 offences. You have heard it, perhaps you have even spoken it, "I just can't forgive him/her for what he’s/she's done to me!"

Consider and contrast what the man in our passage received, yea, what you have received in the way of forgiveness and then what you have such a hard time granting to another. This wretched man needed the attitude adjustment that was coming to him in debtor's prison. Do you need a similar adjustment?

3. Rationale of forgiveness - If we have been forgiven for so much, how can we not forgive So little?

It only makes sense, we ought to forgive because of the forgiveness we have received. Jesus said, freely ye have received, freely give. That not only includes the gospel message and the many blessings poured out upon our lives, but forgiveness.

Who stands in need of your grace and mercy today? Who desperately needs your forgiveness? News flash: you need to forgive MORE than they need to be forgiven!

After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it." It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.

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