2017-12-15 - The Unmerciful Servant - Part 2
Well WHY Do We Forgive?
Verse 21 starts out with "Jesus said" so why we forgive is because God said to; he commands it. In the model prayer Jesus tells us to pray, "forgive us as we forgive others". And then after the model, this is the only part he explains. It’s not easy but we must do it. It is God’s will. Since he commands it, it is a sin not to forgive others.
But here’s a deeper answer. God commands it because it is what is best for us. Bitterness, hatred, and all that sets in when we don’t forgive someone is bad for us. Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgive people in your life, even those who are not sorry for their actions. Holding on to anger only hurts you, not them. And if we jump to the end of our reading we see the hard truth: where forgiveness is not extended, people will be held accountable.
It’s not that Christians can forgive. It's not that they should forgive. But rather they must forgive. If you can’t forgive, then I’m not convinced you have truly experienced forgiveness for yourself. As William Barclay states, “No one can enter into really close fellowship with another if he is his very opposite in mind and heart and spirit … That applies to us and God.” If you can’t forgive I have two words of advice for you — DON’T DIE!
I do not want to be one who relied on my works or a feeling to get me to heaven. I want a genuine experience and with a genuine experience comes a true understanding of forgiveness that will be shared with others. "If we claim to be his then we must disposition to forgive, even our enemies." (Quote from Herbert Lockyer) Those who have truly experienced forgiveness will share that experience. Those who haven’t experienced should not die until they do or they will be tortured for eternity because of their own massive sin debt. Verse 33 according to Kyle Snodgrass could better be rendered “Is it not necessary for you also to show mercy as I have shown you?”
Salvation is not a no-strings-attached, get-out-of-hell-free card. Joining the king means imitating him. 1 John 4:19-20 says that we love him because he first loved us and, if someone says “I love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar and God is not in him.
I want us to go a bit deeper in this why for a minute because it is something I have thought a lot about. We should also forgive them because you are God’s image bearer. You are the visual representation of God to others so, if you want them to understand the abstract reality regarding the forgiveness of sins, you must show them what it looks like in this physical life that we live. Some will never see the spiritual side until they’re shown the somatic and substantial side.
Now we get to the HOW and Jesus tells a story with three parts that show us how we can forgive others.
Verses 23-27 show us to remember your own paid debt.
This servant admitted to the debt and wanted to pay it back if he could just be given time to try. He confessed his debt and all was forgiven because he couldn’t be given enough time to ever pay a debt that size. We cannot pay off our sin with good deeds. We owe too much so we must admit the debt and be forgiven by the mercy of God. It is God’s compassion not man’s convincing that causes forgiveness to be offered. When believers struggle with forgiving others, it is often because they forgot where they came from. The source of forgiveness is God’s forgiveness. As with love, we can give what we have received. Gary Inrig said, "The cross is where we receive forgiveness and where we learn to forgive."
Verses 28-30 show us to recognize a proper perspective.
Both servants owed debts and both fell to their knees and begged for patience saying, “Be patient with me and I will pay you back.” It was common practice to horse-collar a guy (drag him by the neck of his robe) to court but this guy grabbed him by the throat and choked him as he drug him to court. The bitterness that makes us want to choke someone often chokes the life out of marriages, families, and friendship. The man’s perspective was faulty because he expected others to meet a standard of debt repayment that he had not met. Matthew 7:2 says the way we judge others is how we will be judged. The man’s perspective was flawed too because he didn’t extend mercy even a little though he had been shown a lot.
Matthew 5:7 NKJV– Blessed are the merciful, they’ll obtain mercy
Lastly verses 31-34 teach us that we must realize the true prisoner.
Dewey and Rebecca Bertolini in Matthew: God’s Word for the Biblically Inept make the statement, “We are warned in Hebrews 12:15 not to allow a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts. Bitterness, if left unchecked, will destroy us. Jesus told Peter not to stop forgiving, because once we stop forgiving we start destroying. And the person we destroy is ourselves."
Warren Wiersbe, in the popular Be Commentary series states, “The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others then we are only imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment. Some of the most miserable people I have met … have been people who would not forgive others. They lived only to imagine ways to punish these people who had wronged them. But they were really only punishing themselves.”
Mercy is not effectively received unless it is shown, for God’s mercy transforms. If God's mercy does not take root in the heart, it is not experienced. Forgiveness not shown is forgiveness not known.” — Klyne Snodgrass
Pause and reflect for a moment.
God - Help us to see the magnitude we owe so we can forgive the minimal amounts we are owed. Amen
All scripture references are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.