The Measure of Forgiveness
The rabbis in Jesus' day limited forgiveness to a maximum of three offenses. But Jesus taught that we are to forgive as often as God is willing to forgive us.
Pastor Bohr examines the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35, as well as the story of Mary washing Jesus' feet out of appreciative love in contrast to the nonchalant and judgmental attitude of Simon the Leper. These stories demonstrate how many do not realize just how massive and unpayable a debt each one of us owes to God and how merciful and forgiving He has been to us in giving all of heaven freely for our salvation.
Like the Pharisees, many think their debt to be inconsequential and that they themselves are fully able, through their own works, to pay back anything they might owe God. They think they can thus merit His grace and favor. Yet, at the same time they treat others with harshness, snobbishness, and cold-heartedness. They demand unmerciful and exacting perfection of their fellow servants as if they were superior to them. This parable demonstrates that at the judgment, when Jesus settles accounts with His servants, that we will be judged on how Christlike we were in our forgiveness and treatment of others. God will "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors". But we cannot forgive on our own. We must ask God to implant it in us, for we do not naturally have the character of God because of our disease of sin.
This sermon will show what marvelous principle motivates God's forgiveness and just how far He has separated our sins from us. We must stop carrying them around and let them go as He has. It will also help you to realize just how vital forgiveness is to our salvation and how we must, through God's amazing power in His forgiving of us, stop holding any grudges or displaying unforgiving coldness toward any of our fellow humans, no matter what they have done to us, in order to have a place in Christ's kingdom of heaven.
Showing true and complete forgiveness is healing to mind, body, and soul and gives us a taste of how joyful God feels when He forgives.
"Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit. He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God's pardoning grace....The tenderness and mercy that Christ has revealed in His own precious life will be seen in those who become sharers of His grace" (COL 251).
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