Be ready to forgive others as God has forgiven you.
- Ps 86:5; Eph 4:32; Col 3:12-14
Forgiveness is not optional for forgiven people.
- Matt 6:12; 18:21-35; Jer 31:34
But then, alongside of that, we need to be ready to forgive as God has forgiven us in Christ. And right underneath the seven A’s of confession you have the four promises of forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other as God in Christ has also forgiven you.” We’re taught in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Other scripture that I’ll use for this, one passage is in Matthew 18, 21 to the end, another one that should be in your ever-growing counseling bible, which is the parable of the unmerciful servant. And in this parable, you have the man who owed his master 10,000 talents which, I think the ESV said would be so many billions and billions of dollars in today’s money. That he owed his master the 10,000 talents and the master forgave him. But then another servant owed the first servant 100 denari. One thing about that parable you should understand, by the way, is 100 denari would be– pocket change. A denari is a day’s wage. So if you make a hundred dollars a day, that’s $10,000. It’s not just a little bit. Until you put it on the top of a fraction that has billions underneath it, right? But it’s, and this is important, because if you’re the person who’s wronged, and you focus on what they’ve done to you, it is substantial. Your spouse has been unfaithful. Your spouse has lied to you. Your spouse has wasted a bunch of money. Your spouse has embarrassed or shamed you. Your friend has betrayed you. It’s not inconsequential. When you’re at this point and you’re the person being asked to forgive, it’s not a matter of someone having made a little mistake and you have to make no big deal out of it. Sorry I spilled my water and it got on your magazine. It’s something to us that’s significant. The only way you’re able to forgive is to get your eye off of the top half of the fraction, the hundred denari, and to get it on the other aspect, I’m the one who’s been forgiven the 10,000 talents. And as you think about what Christ has paid for you, you think about his suffering, his torment. He bore our sin. How awful must that have been, in and of itself for the holy one who had been in perfect fellowship with the father from all eternity, to have our sin counted against him and then to receive the beatings, the scourgings. But worst of all, the wrath of God being poured out on him to pay our debt. And I want to tell you something, I have to practice this all the time. This isn’t one where you kind of get it once and you can forget about it. People keep hurting me. Does that happen to you, too? People let me down, they hurt my feelings, they take and take and take and walk away. But when I start thinking about what Christ has done for me and the enormity of my sin, I can’t get mad, or I can’t stay mad. It forces me to be gracious. That the death of Christ for us wasn’t just an example to show us how to forgive, it actually enables us to forgive.
Thinking about this, and this is again, where you have to take the counselee and, let’s talk about this. You obviously read through the parable of the unmerciful servant. True case, there’s a case in which a man and a woman, a husband and wife came to me, probably about late 20s, and the wife had been unfaithful. She was on a worship team at her church and she and a man who was on the worship team had been attracted to each other and I think one night after practice they went off to a hotel together. They committed adultery together. The wife came home in tears and confessed to her husband and just broken. And the husband was, I think, very angry, very embittered. He kicked her out of the house. She went, I think, to live with her parents or with a friend. And as they came to me, this had been a few weeks, maybe a month, obviously she had confessed to the leadership of the church, she had gotten off of the worship team. She’d been doing all that she could and the husband was wanting to divorce her. And he was angry and he was embittered and I talked and talked and talked and this woman was broken. She said, I don’t care how long you make me wait, I’ll live with my parents five years, I’ll do whatever you need to do. I don’t want any money from you. I know I’ve wronged you so badly, I’m just begging you to forgive me. I mean, if there were 10 steps, 10 As, she did ’em all as best she could, and he was just hardened and angry. And I made him read aloud the parable of the unmerciful servant. And I asked him, so sir, in your life, have you ever been sexually immoral? I said, I’ll even dare to ask you another question, when you were dating or courting your wife, did y’all ever commit fornication before you were married? And the guy started weeping. And he started, he was the one, he started pleading with his wife, please forgive me. Please forgive me for being so bitter, so nasty, so angry, so unforgiving. He realized he was the unmerciful servant. He was a sexually immoral man, too. That he was a great sinner for whom a great price had been paid that his sin would be forgiven and there he was, as in the parable, choking the one who owed him, who had wronged him. And they went home, by God’s grace, reconciled. It’s the gospel and realizing where we fit into the gospel story that God uses to change people.