Experiencing Forgiveness

I. Scripture

Matthew 18:23-35 (NIV)

 21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[f] 23″Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents[g] was brought to him. 25Since 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. 26″The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28″But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29″His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30″But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 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. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35″This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Matthew 18:23-35 (MESSAGE)

21At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” 22Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. 23-25″The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. 26-27″The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt. 28″The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’ 29-31″The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. 32-35″The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

II. Statement of Focus

God’s goal is not simply that we “get” forgiveness, but that we “experience” forgiveness. Only the experience of forgiveness will transform our hearts. And the Litmus Test for whether we are experiencing it is found in our day-to-day relationships.  Our troublemakers ARE our blessings, for they keep pointing us back to the Jesus/God/Cross.

III. LESSON

Background

Craig Pierce preached about this when I was in High School and it still sticks in my memory.

Read Passage

Explain the horror of his predicament

Yet, when released, he assaults the other fellow

Why?

Because he had only “gotten” forgiveness, not “experienced” forgiveness

God’s goal is not just to forgive you!

He wants you to experience it.

He wants you to feel it

He wants you to bask in it

He wants you to feel the joy of freedom

Example: The picture of the guy in Shawshank Redemption after he had gotten out of jail – basking in the rain of freedom.

Sit back and imagine how that feels!

Like a shower after a sweaty jog through a dusty field

A corollary of this is that God “expects” this new experience (of forgiveness) to change you.

Although it is comforting to talk about receiving forgiveness, we must realize the earnestness of this passage – pointing to the fact that God does expect his forgiveness to change us on the inside.

The Litmus Test that God puts in our lives – for whether or not we are experiencing his forgiveness – is the “troublemakers” in our lives.

God allows there to be DEBTORS in our lives.

Troublemakers

There are a lot of people who “owe you”

See, God’s forgiveness does A LOT  of things for us, but it does not remove our DEBTORS.

God has removed or DEBT but he has not (and will not) remove our DEBTORS

Why?

They “keep us honest”

They reveal whether we are in touch with our own forgiveness.

They are a blessing! Not a curse.

IV. Upward Call

Let’s break into small groups and answer the following questions

  • Do you agree that your Debtors/Troublemakers are actually blessings in your life? Explain
  • How does the fact that “God expects this” affect how you feel about receiving it? Are you able to combine both thoughts?

Rom 11:22

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

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