Keys to the Kingdom - Forgiveness

Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35, Luke 18:9-14
Date: 02/20/2016 
In order for God's forgiveness to blossom in our life we must learn to forgive each other. Pastor Doug Batchelor presented this message in Cape Town, South Africa on February 20, as part of the Keys of the Kingdom program.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Amen. You folks sure know how to sing and deeply appreciate the music. The Amazing Facts and the AFCOE Team would like to thank the Cape Conference and all of the churches represented for the very kind treatment. It is just a delight to see you. I have been wanting to come to this city for years, partly because Pastor Ross was born here and he was always telling me how beautiful it was, so I am waiting for the clouds to lift so I can actually see it. But we are expecting some good weather and we are going to take a look around tomorrow. It has been a delight just being here and we want to thank you in advance.

After the program tonight for a few minutes, Mrs. Batchelor and the Ross’ and I will be over here on the left if you want to come by and shake hands. I know some of you maybe have a long way to go and you will be heading out the doors, but we just want to be available to greet you. Next time we see each other on TV, I will wave at you. So we are friends now, so if anybody asks you, say, oh, yeah, I know the Batchelors, we have met, we are friends. Anyway, it has been good to be here with you.

As we share in this series about the Keys of the Kingdom, you may be surprised by what I have chosen to share for this final message. It is on the subject of forgiveness. Years ago, a man in a French village was bitten by a dog. This is before Louis Pasteur had discovered a cure for rabies and they found out this dog had rabies. If you had been bitten by a rabid dog before there was any cure, you were going to die in a few days. You would go mad and get hydrophobia or whatever it is and you become rabid. Once the man found out that the dog had rabies and he was infected, he asked the doctor, he said please get me a piece of paper and a pencil.

And so the doctor gave him a piece of paper and a pencil and he started writing very furiously. The doctor said if you are writing your will, you have a few days. Take your time and think about what you are saying. He said I am writing my will. I am writing a list of everybody I am going to bite before I die. This is the attitude of some people.

The bible says in Revelation 12, “Satan has come down with great wrath because he knows his time is short.” So the devil wants to hurt as many people as he can on his way out and some people live their lives that way. They are hurt, so they want to hurt everybody else. The bible is very clear that vengeance backfires. The bible says that if you dig a pit for somebody else, you will fall in the pit that you have dug.

Maybe you remember the story of Haman in the Book of Esther. He built the gallows to hang Mordecai and you know who ended up hanging on those gallows? Haman was hung on the gallows he built for someone else.

Some people go through life and they have been hurt and they are bitter and they are angry and they are spending their time wishing bad things to happen to somebody else. Or they just feel like maybe because life has not been fair, they want to see some kind of equality or vengeance.

There is a Chinese proverb that says if you are trying to live your life getting even with enemy, you are digging two graves, one for yourself and one for them.

I heard a story about a man in Scotland named McGillicuddy and he was having a terrible feud with his neighbor. He and his neighbor fought for years and he just would not miss any opportunity to do something mean to his neighbor. And then one night in a dream, an angel said, McGillicuddy, I am going to give you whatever you ask me as a blessing, but just know that I am going to give your neighbor twice. Whatever you ask, I will give it to you, but your neighbor gets twice. McGillicuddy thought and he thought and he just could not bear the thought of his neighbor getting twice of what he got and so he said, I want to prey that the angel takes one of my eyes. Take both of his neighbors.

This is the way some people live. They are just angry. We need to learn to forgive. Everybody has been hurt. Because in order for the forgiveness of Jesus to blossom in your life, we need to learn how to forgive each other.

So turn with me in your bibles. There is one story we are going to look at in Matthew 18:21. It is a parable to Jesus shares, sometimes known as the unmerciful debtor. Matthew 18:21, “Peter came to Jesus. He said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” You might be thinking Peter is being a little bit selfish with forgiveness. Seven times, that does not sound like very much, but you have to understand in the time of Jesus, the religious leaders used to say God will forgive you three times.

They thought a sin was some big monumental failure and they thought like baseball, three strikes and you are out. So they thought, well, Peter realized Jesus is so loving, maybe if I double it and add one for good measure, seven, a nice biblical number. He said, “Jesus, how often shall I forgive my brother, seven times?” He knew Jesus was so merciful, so patient, he expected Jesus to pat him on the back and say, Peter, now you are getting the idea or do not go that far. But instead, Jesus shocked him. He said, “I do not say unto you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

What did the Lord mean by that? Did God mean that up in the sky he has a piece of paper and a pencil and he is counting out your sins and when you get to 490, you are done? No more forgiveness? Or that you are supposed to keep a list with your friends and your family and anybody that has hurt and every time your husband says something unkind, you write down, 301, 302, all right, I will forgive you this time, but you are running short, 310, 311 and then when you get to 490 you say we are done. Is that what Jesus is saying?

You know why he said seventy times seven? He is referring back to another seventy times seven in the Book of Daniel. In Daniel 9, Daniel is praying and he is saying, “Lord, you have been so merciful to your people. They keep backsliding and you forgive them and they backslide and you discipline them and then you forgive them. How long until the Messiah comes?” And the angel said 70 weeks. How many days in a week? It is the same way in North America as South Africa. Look at that, coincidence. Seventy times seven. Seventy times seven until the Messiah came.

That is talking about the mercy of God is unlimited. Let me make it clear. God will forgive you as often as you genuinely repent. You do not have to worry that God is going to run out of forgiveness. There is a danger, though, in continuing in sin. You may lose your capacity to repent. You could lose the ability to genuinely sorry for your sin because your heart gets hard. So I am not saying because God is so forgiving that you could just sin like crazy and just keep asking for forgiven. If all of us were honest, we would admit that sometimes we have gone into sin with our eyes wide open saying I will ask God to forgive me later. That is presumptious and it is very dangerous. God is merciful and He is forgiving, but if you continue to sin willfully, Hebrews 10:26, “If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking forward to a judgment and fiery indignation.” If we continue to knowingly sin willfully, you harden your heart, you lose ability to repent and you know what the outcome is. You will be lost. So sin is a dangerous thing.

But I want you to know today is that God is merciful. He is long-suffering. He is abounding in mercy. He will forgive every time you genuinely humble yourself and repent. You know, the bible says Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven devils. The bibles says a righteous man falls seven times and rises again. The Lord will deliver you in six troubles, yea in seven, no evil will harm you, the Book of Job. So the bible is full of promises and it always connects forgiveness with seven.

So to illustrate what Jesus was talking about, he went on and he shared a parable with Peter. The question was, “How often shall I forgive my brother?” So we have two kinds of forgiveness we are talking about in this story. First, you and God. That is your vertical forgiveness. And then you have the horizontal forgiveness, you and your neighbor.

Jesus shares a parable that talks about both. Matthew 18:23, “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants,” By the way, there is going to be a day when accounts are settled. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Can you say Amen? We need to be aware of that. “A certain king wanted to settle accounts with his servants and when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.”

A talent in the bible is like a bag of cement as far as weight. It weighed anywhere between 56 and 75 pounds. There are varying measurements for a talent. Can you imagine ten thousand bags. These are talents of silver probably. The bible also talks about a lot of talents of gold. Ten thousand talents of silver would be the largest sum that you can imagine. Wouldn’t you like to have ten thousand talents of silver? How would you like to owe ten thousand talents of silver? Could you pay it back? This is a fantastic amount.

And so this servant worked for the king and evidentially he was high up and maybe he was an accountant and he had a royal credit card and he had been spending the king’s money and he had been going on expensive business trips and staying in the best places and eating the most expensive food. He was probably gambling and maybe he had some drinking problems, but he was wasting a lot of government resources.

You might wonder how one person could end up spending ten thousand talents of the king’s money so quickly. Have you heard of government waste before? In America, we had a scandal a few years. We found out that contractors were charging the military the most astronomical prices. A hammer, 300 dollars, and a lot of things like that. So you can understand how this one fellow, he was running up and incredible bill. Ten thousand talents.

“The king commanded him to be brought in,” Verse 25, “but he wasn’t able to pay. So his master commanded that he be sold with his wife and his children and all that he had and that a payment be made.” It was a pitiful scene. In bible times, if you could not pay your debts -- I don’t know what the laws are here. In America, if you cannot pay your debts, you can go through these legal procedures where you file what they call Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 and you file bankruptcy. I am insolvent, I cannot pay. They do not put you in jail. Bible times, they not only put you in jail if you could not pay your debts, they would torture you in jail according to how much you owed. That would really discourage people. They could also take your children.

Read 2 Kings 4, this widow, her husband died and she could not pay her debt and the debtor, the creditor, was coming to take her children and sell them as slaves. They could take your wife and make her part of their harem or sell her. All of your possession became theirs.

So this man, he saw what his son had done. Do you think this man just woke up one day and realized he owed ten thousand talents? He knew that he was wasting the king’s money. He knew someday judgment was coming, but he would not stop wasting the king’s money. Finally, it all caught up with him and there was a judgment day and it was discovered and everybody was looking at him. He saw the guards taking his possessions out of his house and he saw his wife and his children being taken off to be sold and he fell down before the king and he cried and he prayed and he said, “Please, have patience with me and I will pay you all.” He just wasted ten thousand talents of the king’s money. How is he ever going to earn it himself?

But the king saw the man crying. He heard the man pleading. Listen to what the bible says. “The servant fell down and said be patient with me and I will pay you all and the master of that servant was moved with compassion and he released him and forgave him the debt.” Wow. It does not say he put up payment program, did you catch that? Do not miss that. It says he forgave the debt. That is different than the king saying, all right, I am going to let you pay me back. You have to give a thousand talents a month or something for the rest of your life. He did not say that. He forgave it. But evidently, the servant did not believe it.

What does God do with our sins? Does God set up a payment program or does he forgive completely and freely? He freely forgives us. He had compassion on him and he released him and he forgave him the debt. Someone once said there is a difference between pity and compassion.

In San Francisco years ago, I heard a story that they had a street car, a trolley car, that was going up the road and it struck a pedestrian, knocked him down and ran on top of him. He was injured, trapped underneath the undercarriage of the streetcar. And as often happens in cities, people all came running. The police had not gotten there yet and the ambulance and all the people came running and they looked underneath. They saw the man was still conscious and he is injured and he is trapped, seriously hurt. Some people looked underneath the streetcar and they said you are going to be okay, help is coming. Some people watched from the corner and they shook their heads and said what a shame. That is called pity.

But one man in a business suit, he got down on his belly and he crawled underneath the streetcar and he put his hand on the man’s shoulder and he said you are going to be okay. Help is on the way, I will stay right here with you.

That is the difference between pity and compassion. Pity looks down. Compassion gets down. When you and I were lost, did God just look down or did He get down? He came down to where we were, right? God did not just have pity on us. He had compassion on us. So the king is moved. His heart is moved. Who ends up paying the debt when this man cannot pay the king? The king has to pay for it. Who pays for your debt? God had to pay. Someone had to pay. He is moved with compassion and the Lord pays the debt.

This is where I would like to stop the story and talk about the king’s forgiveness, but the story goes on. “That servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,” that is like a week’s work, “and he laid hands on him and he took him by the throat.” That is sort of personal. “And he shook him and he said, pay me what you owe me.”

This is amazing. Have you ever been in debt? Have you ever owed a lot of money and you couldn’t pay it back and then maybe you have some windfall or some blessing and you finally pay the debt and you get out from under the debt and you are so thankful. Or maybe you have had some burden that you have carried for years and it bothers you and you think about it all the time and the burden is removed and you think Praise God and you can jump ten feet high. Free at last, free at last, right? After this man had been forgiven by the king, ten thousand talents, this was a cloud that was following him everywhere, the king says, you are forgiven, forget about it, new beginning. I would have gone out from the king, oh, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord.

But this guy does not go out happy. He goes out mad. He has somehow convinced himself that the reason he is in debt is because his buddy owes him forty dollars or 400 grand. Sorry, I am always thinking in dollar terms. And he goes and he finds his friend right after being forgiven, instead of being grateful. He thinks he has to pay the king back. He does not believe he is forgiven. And so he goes to find everybody that owes him something and he takes it out on them. He grabs this fellow and he shakes him and he takes him by the throat and he says, pay me. You owe me four hundred grand or whatever. A small amount.

I want to make sure you understand the difference between these two sums. The earth, I do not know in kilometers, in miles, the sun is 93 million miles from earth. That is how much God has forgiven us. That other sum is one foot. The difference between the ten thousand talents and the four hundred grand is the difference between the sun and one foot, a meter.

God is willing to forgive us the distance between the earth and the sun, but we struggle to forgive each other just a meter. You see what the analogy is that Jesus is making here? He is talking about how much God has forgiven you, ten thousand talents, but yet how we struggle to forgive others.

And sometimes we think, oh, but Pastor Doug, you do not know what they have done to me. If you only knew how they treated me. You know what I always think is really sad, it is almost ironic. I meet people all the time that do not go to church anymore and I say why don’t you go to church anymore? They did not treat me very nice. These people were so unkind and they were mean and so I am going to teach them a lesson and I am must going to be lost and that will teach them.

This is exactly what the devil wants you to do. Did Jesus have a Judas in his church? There is going to be terrors mixed in with the weed? Do not let the devil scare you out of church because there are some ornery people in the church. That is exactly what he wants to do. You are falling right into his trap.

And then the other thing to remember is you do not know why some people act the way they do because you cannot look in their hearts. Some people are unkind and nasty and do mean things and they have issues. You do not know why they have issues.

I heard about a pastor that was traveling one time and he was waiting for his plane. His plane was late and he was in the airport. In the airport, there was a boy shining shoes. This was years ago. The pastor thought, I admire that he is trying to get some work done, so the pastor sat down and said, you can give me a shoe shine. He sat in the chair and the boy began to work on his shoes. He was getting polish on his socks and he was smearing it. He was getting it on the laces and then the boy was drying to do a spit shine. You know what that is? When you spit and you buff. But the spit was not getting on the shoes.

When the pastor saw this, he was getting angrier and angrier and he thought, you want me to pay for this? He finally told the boy, look at the mess you have made. You have it on my socks and you spit on my pants and it is all smeared around? You want me to pay for this? How do they let you stay here in the airport and do this? And for the first time, the boy looked up and the pastor saw his face. His eyes were all red. And he said, I am so sorry, mister. I can barely see right now. My mother died last week and I cried a lot and I got an infection in my eyes and I can’t see, but I have to work because I have to feed my little brother and sister. The pastor felt so ashamed. All he saw was the mess on the outside and he did not know anything about the hurt on the inside. That is the way we are sometimes. It is hard to forgive people because we do not know what is going on in their heart.

I want to just read on here. “He went and he found a fellow servant, took him by the throat,” that servant falls down and says to him the very same thing. He says, “Have patience with me and I will pay you all.” This is the same prayer that he himself had prayed before the king. The king had answered his prayer, but he would not do it for anyone else. It says, “He would not, but he put him in prison till he should pay the debt.”

You and I think that is so cold-hearted, but maybe Jesus is talking about you. How much did Jesus pay for you? How big is your account? Jesus paid a debt that he did not owe. When you come to the cross and you say Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner, do you know what you are really asking? How many sins does it take to be eternally lost? One unforgiven sin. All you have to do is murder once, right? Pick your sin. Sin is sin. Take that now and extrapolate it over the course of your life.

When you come to the cross and you are asking Jesus to forgive a life of sin, and do not forget, your sins do not only affect you. It is like a pebble thrown in the water. Whatever you do, it will affect others around you and the good or evil that you do in your life is impacting those around you. So it is not just what your sins have done to you. It is what your sins have done to others and humanity and history, as it ripples on through time.

So when you come to Jesus and you say, Lord, forgive me, do you know how much your sins cost? What would be the most valuable thing in the universe? I hear you have a big gold mine here in South Africa. We are going to try to go see it. Take all the gold in the world. It is not worth anything compared to the whole world and the world is not anything compared to the one who could make a world. The most valuable thing in the universe would be God because God made everything else. Are you with me?

God, the creator, gave Himself to forgive you. Ten thousand talents and you look at the cross and you see Jesus up there bleeding, you see Him beaten and you see all the suffering that He went through and you realize that He is there paying for your sins. And then you say, I cannot forgive that sister because she gossiped about me. Oh, big deal, gossip. There are little things compared to what you have done to the Lord and I know there are some serious things.

I have people come to me sometimes after a message like this. They will say, Pastor Doug, I was abused by a family member sexually for years as a child. I cannot forgive them. What do you think? Should they forgive? Now I have your attention. You must forgive the resentment. It does not mean you have to trust the person again. It does not mean you have to open yourself to abuse. But you need to let some things go or it will destroy you and it will eat you up.

In North America years ago, they had a Civil War. It was a very fierce. As a matter of fact, more Americans died in the Civil War than any other war in our history. It was very bloody. The north fought against the south. One lady that lived in the south had been a wealthy woman and had this plantation and she was talking to the General Robert E. Lee, who had led the south, but they lost the battle.

The house was all beaten up and there was this oak tree up on top of the hill and she started to tell Robert E. Lee, said she that oak tree was an ancient tree. It was a beautiful tree. It was symmetrical and look at what these terrible Yankees have done with their cannons. It’s all busted to smithereens and those Yankees. You know what he told her? She was using that tree as a monument of her anger. He said, Madam, cut it down and forget it.

That does not mean that person is not going to be responsible for their sin. But if you spend your life bitter about what someone else did to you, you cannot control what someone else does to you. What you can control is that you are not going to be a slave to what they did to you. If you let the emotions and the anger control you, then they win. But if you can, forgive your enemies. While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us.

It is interesting, the bible says love your enemies and the bible says love your neighbor. That is because sometimes your neighbor becomes your worst enemy. You look in the bible at all the times when they dealt with friendly fire. Do you know what I mean by friendly fire? Who was it that sold Joseph? His brothers. Who killed Cabel? I just made up a new name. Our two youngest boys are Steven and Nathan. One day Karen was exasperated in church in the courtyard and the kids were running around and misbehaving and she was trying to get them to come to her. In her frustration, instead of saying Steven or Nathan, she said Satan, come here. So just mixed up Cain and Abel and I made Cabel. But it was Cain who killed his brother. Who tried to kill David? His own king and his own son. And who betrayed Jesus? One of the head elders.

So do not be surprised that the devil often hurts us through those closest to us. As a matter of fact, it hurts the most when they are close. If I am walking down the street and I meet a total stranger who starts to rave and say, oh, you are ugly and I do not like you and I hate bald people and just whatever he happens to say, I do not really care. I do not even know who he is. I feel sorry for him. But when someone close to you hurts you, then it is different. But you still have to let it go because if you do not forgive, the forgiveness of God cannot grow in your heart.

The best way for you to enjoy the forgiveness of God is to receive it and then you pass it on. You will never grow more, you will never make more room for the working of the Holy Spirit in your life, this is one of the keys to the kingdom, is you accept the forgiveness of Jesus and then you forgive others.

You might say, but Pastor Doug, you do not know what they have done to me. I could tell you some stories about what has been done to me and I would get your sympathy. But I am not going to because then it brings up all those memories that I am trying to forget about.

Has anybody here been hurt more than Jesus? When you think about anything that is done to hurt any human being, Jesus said, “And as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” So there is nobody in the world who has ever lived that has felt more pain than Jesus because Jesus has felt the pain of every person who has ever been beaten or abused or ripped off or gossiped about or whatever you might think, experienced violence.

Oh, Pastor Doug, how can I forgive them? Let me give you an illustration that might help a little bit. Supposed you go to somebody’s house. After church they invite you over to their home for dinner and you come in the front door and they have a little hallway there and they say, look, I am in the kitchen getting things ready. Why don’t you go in the living room, let me take your coat. And you give them the coat and while you are going in the living room, this older gentleman walks up to you and he says, what are you doing in my house? I do not want all these people coming in my house. He says, all these ugly coming into my house, as a matter of fact, I have never seen anybody so ugly. And you are probably just going to eat all our food. You people just come like pigs and eat all of our food.

And this person just starts to insult you and you thing, man, I have never been so offended in all my life. You go to the host and you say, I want my jacket, I am leaving. And she says, why? Well, that man in there, that old man was insulting me. She says, oh, we are so sorry. You met grandpa. We did not know he was awake. Grandpa has dementia. He used to be the nicest guy in the world, but he is sick. And when they tell you that, you go, oh, he is sick. Yes, I can stay, as long as I do not have to sit by grandpa.

Isn’t it easier to forgive people when you know they are sick? You know why people do mean things? Because we have a disease called sin. You just have to realize that the devil gets in people. Have you heard stories of people that did terrible things and then somehow God saved them?

Have you ever read the story about King Manasseh? Manasseh was the longest reigning king of Judah, 55 years. He killed the prophet, Isaiah, set up idols in the temple of the Lord, sacrificed his children to pagan Gods. That has to be the unpardonable sin, right? Anywhere here that can top that? You know what the bible says? Manasseh was attacked by the Assyrians and he was carried off to Babylon and he prayed and turned to the Lord and repented. It is almost unbelievable, God forgave him and brought him back to the kingdom and then he knew the Lord was God. Manasseh was converted.

There are going to be some surprises when you get to heaven. I want to be there and see some of people’s expressions. For example, it will be interesting to see David and Bathsheba and Uriah. Won’t they all be there? David has some explaining to do. You know that suicide mission you were sent on?

Another interesting scenario is going to be when Steven gets to heaven and the last thing he remember is there was this young Pharisee named Saul that was helping execute him and Steven gets to heaven and he sees a parade and the angels are carrying Saul on their shoulders. Steven is going to go, you guys made a mistake. What is he doing here? And the angel says, Steven, remember that prayer that you prayed? Lord, do not lay this sin to their charge, just like when Jesus died. Father, forgive them, they do not know what they do. That man who was killing Christians was converted and became the greatest missionary. Will Steven be glad that he was forgiven? Yes.

Have you ever considered the people that you are bitter against might get converted? And one of the things that might convert them is the way that you act. If they see that you truly forgive them.

Another reason I think it is important that we understand forgiveness is our relationships. God completely and freely forgives you. He does not set up a payment program. If God is a creditor, if He is a banker and you are paying Him back, you are never going to love Him. I learned this the hard way.

A small church I was pastoring and one of our families in the church, a new family moved to town, nice family. A mother, father, couple of daughters. He was in the auto business. He had set up a body shop and did auto body repair. He said, Pastor Doug, I do not know what to do. You might give me some advice. I have this check from an insurance company to pay for a job I am doing, $1,500. And he said, they will not cash the check because I just moved to town and I do not have an account yet and I do not know what to do. They said maybe I could get somebody to cosign for the check.

I looked at the check. It was a legitimate insurance company I know this family. I said, sure, I will cosign. So I cosigned. The bank cashed their check, the took their money and they spent their money.

A couple of weeks later, I got a notice that $1,500 had been subtracted from our bank account. I called the bank to find out what happened. They said that check you cosigned, the insurance company canceled it. They said, you cosigned, you are responsible.

So what do you think I did? I went back to this family and said, look, they just took, this money out of my bank. They said, Pastor, we just found out. We are so sorry and they tried to explain there was some business problem with the job they had done. They said, we do not have the money. We spent the money, but we will pay you back. I said okay and I took them at their word. I think they wanted to.

This family, when they first moved to town, a small church, they sat right on the front row and the man sang beautifully. She could probably sing, too, but he was in a choir and he really had a beautiful voice. They said they were going to pay me back and I said okay. And I noticed nothing happened for a few weeks. I was not getting my money. And know he was working hard, but they struggling, a new town, a new business and he just was not able to get ahead. They were always just a little behind in paying the basics.

So I would go see him and the first thing he would say when he saw me, it was not, hi, Pastor Doug, how are you doing, Praise the Lord, let’s have a bible study. The first thing he said when he saw me was, your money is coming. I have not forgotten, I have this car here. I am going to do that, I will get a little for that and then I have this other job. He said, I will pay you, do not worry, Pastor. I said, okay. I wanted my money back, wouldn’t you? It’s one thing to make a donation to the church, but I did not expect to do it to an auto body business.

Then I noticed they came to church and they moved back a row. A few weeks later, they moved back another row. And then I would run into them in town. I would not even say anything about the money and he would bring it up. I know about the job, I have not forgotten, do not worry. And then they moved further back. Then I noticed one week they were not there. They came back after a couple weeks. Then they missed two weeks. I could see what was happening and this was a problem.

I was praying, Lord, what do I do? I was driving down the road one day and I heard this little voice say to me, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I said, Lord, you surely do not mean… And then I read in Luke where Jesus said, “Give expecting nothing in return.” I said, no, not that, Lord. And finally, I just was realizing, what is worth more, this family’s soul or the money? Let me make it very clear at this point.

I am not telling you this story to say that you ought to go to somebody that you owe money to and say, Pastor Doug says I should not have to pay you back. If you are a Christian, you ought to pay your debts. Can I hear an Amen? And we ought to be the most trustworthy people out there. We ought to be the most dependable people out there. But if you are in the other boat, you can always choose to forgive. I am not saying you forgive a person that is just constantly living in the prodigal way, because you could be hurting them by encouraging bad behavior. But I was convicted, I needed to forgive them.

So I went to see him one day. He is in his body shop, he is working on this car. When he sees me coming, what do you think the first thing is that he said? I got this car, Pastor, I’m going to do this work and he said, if you wreck your car, I will fix it for you. We will pay you back. And I said, Brother, forget about it. When I first said it, I thought, no, do not say it. It came out of my mouth and then I wanted to take it back. But right when I said it, I felt better. He said, no, no, no, Pastor, I owe it to you. It was not yours. You trusted me and I am going to pay you back. I said, no, no, forget about it. The more I tried to convince him, the more I started convincing myself, I was really going to forgive him.

Eventually, I took his hand and I said, look, Brother, pretend it never happened. It is over, it is done with. You do not owe me anything. Let’s get a new beginning. He stood up straight and he took a deep sigh and he said, thank you. Where do you think he was next week? Back up front, singing better than ever.

When you have the debt idea with you and God, it hurts the relationship. God forgives that ten thousand talents that you owe. He will completely forgive you and if you are completely forgiven, do you know what that means? You have everlasting life. If you have everlasting life, are you going to be more careful with the king’s account? You know what I am saying? The people who really believe they are forgiven are more frightened of sin than anybody because they know how much it cost the king.

And so that man who would not forgive his neighbor, took him by the throat, shook him, put him in prison to be tortured for the few pence that he owed, eventually word reaches the king.

Verse 31, “When his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieve. They came and they told their master all that had been done and the king, the master, after he had called this wicked servant, he said to him, you wicked servant, I forgave you all of that debt because you asked me.”

What do you need to do to be forgiven? Ask. Just think about that. He simply, sincerely said, please have mercy on me. It is like Jesus told the story about the Pharisee and the public and two men going to the temple to pray. One is a Pharisee and one is publican. One is a tax collector and one is very religious. The religious man sits up front and he says, “Thank you, Lord, that I am not like other men. I pay tithe of all that I have, I fast twice a week and I am glad I am not like this extortioner on the back row. And the publican would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but he smote upon his breast and he said, Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And you know what Jesus said? The publican went home forgiven.

Wouldn’t you like to go home forgiven? The king said, “I forgave you that entire debt because you asked me.” All the sins of your life were paid for by Jesus’s sacrifice. You are not a better sinner than Jesus is a savior. He says that if you come to Him and if you ask Him to sincerely forgive you, He will forgive you. If you are forgiven, He gives you a gift of everlasting life and then He gives you power and a new heart to live new kind of life. And each one of us has that opportunity.

But this man through his friend in prison. When the king heard about that, he said, “You wicked servant. I forgave you that debt because you asked me. Should you not have had compassion on your fellow servant, how as I had pity on you?” How does Jesus want us to forgive each other? He says, “Even as Christ has forgiven you, so ye must forgive each other.

You know the Lord’s prayer? Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And it says, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. I heard one boy asking his father, a young boy coming home from church one day, he says, Dad, what does it mean to forgive someone their trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets? The father did not correct him. He thought, well, he sort of has the idea. We ask God to forgive our trespasses.

There is only one commentary Jesus makes on the Lord’s Prayer. It is also at the end of this parable. “The master was angry and he delivered him to the tormenters, the torturers, until he should pay all that was due him, so my Heavenly Father will do unto you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive every man, his brother, their trespasses.”

You know what Jesus says after the Lord’s Prayer? The only comment Jesus makes after the Lord’s Prayer is, “If you do not forgive your brother their trespasses, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.” Wow, that is pretty heavy. Can you see how important it is to understand this subject? It is not optional. It is mandatory that we learn to let go and forgive.

You know when the Holy Spirit is going to fall out on the church? When did the Holy Spirit fall out, at Pentecost. The disciples were arguing with each other which of them was the greatest. There was jealousy and bickering and the one person they should have been suspicious of they wanted to elect the treasurer. All of them were wanting to sit on the right hand and the left and there were problems. They were fighting over who got to sit next to Jesus at the Last Supper.

But after they saw Jesus dying on the cross and they realized they were all guilty of betraying Him and forsaking Him, they gathered in an upper room and they knelt and they prayed and they hugged each other and they forgave each other. The bible says not only were they in one place, but what else is it? They were of one accord. And the God poured out the Holy Spirit. You know why? They had forgiven each other.

All of us have some history. There are things we are angry about. There are things we are bitter about. We feel like we have been treated poorly or unjustly. If you embrace that, it is like acid. It will devour you. You need to ask God to wash you and let it go. You know, there is such a freedom.

I want to make one thing very clear before I make the next statement. In this story, God is not saying if you forgive others, I will forgive you. The sequence is very important. Who does the first forgiving? The king does. The man comes to the king and says forgive me. He says, “I will freely forgive you ten thousand talents,” saying basically go now and do likewise.

God forgives you first. God is not saying, I’ll tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. You go forgive everybody the things that they have done to hurt you or all of the anger, whatever you have in your heart, and then I will forgive you. God is saying, no, I forgive you first. Now pass it on. Because you cannot have the power to forgive others the way God wants you to forgive others unless you are forgiven first. It is the power of Christ in us that gives us the ability to forgive them. God is willing to do that for you.

So my Heavenly Father will do for each of you, if you from your heart does forgive his brother their trespasses. Now, think about this. It says, “The master was angry and he delivered him to the torturers, the tormentors.”

I do not know exactly how that worked, but I guess in bible times, if you went to the debtor’s prison because you owed money, they had a price list on the wall. If you owed one talent, you were in prison for 30 days and you got beat with so many strikes of the whip and stretched on the rack and they only pulled out one fingernail, I don’t know. But they tortured you somehow. Can you imagine going to a prison where you are tortured according to your debt, owing ten thousand talents?

Think about this. When it comes to your being forgiven for your sins, does Jesus ever partially forgive? When the Lord comes again, let us supposed you are a Christian and you have asked God to forgive you several times, but you kept falling back in your sin and you never really repented. You end up dying where you are not totally surrendered, but you have prayed for forgiveness for things.

So when Jesus comes, do you only pay for the sins that you forgot to repent of? Suppose you are lost, but there was a while where you were Christian. Maybe half your life you were a Christian and then a person turns away and the other half their life they are living for the world and then they die. Do they end up paying for 50 percent of their sins when Jesus comes? I have sad news for you. It’s either all or nothing.

That is what you learn from this story. The king said, look, I forgave you ten thousand talons and I forgive you one hundred percent forgiveness, but if you will not forgive your brother, I revoke a hundred percent. That scares me a little. I do not want to go into the judgment unforgiven. How about you, friends. We must a hundred percent embrace the forgiveness of the Lord and then realize how deadly sin is. We need to then continue to walk with the Lord. And when we realize how much we have been forgiven, it transforms us.

Have you ever been hurt? Have you sometimes found it hard to forgive others? You keep thinking about it? I know some of you are thinking, Pastor Doug, I forgive them, but I keep thinking about it. Does that mean I have not forgiven them? No. You have heard the expression before, you cannot prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair. And that is easy for me, of course. You cannot prevent those thoughts from coming of what people have done, but you can choose when you remember those things to not dwell on it.

Just choose to forget it and when the devil tries to bring it back to you, say get behind me Satan. By the grace of God, I am going to let that go. I am not going to dwell on that. You might have to tell the devil to get behind you several times and say by the Grace of God, Lord, give me your spirit of forgiveness. He can help you forgive. And then you know what? You will feel a revival and a relief in your heart because you have a new beginning. You cannot hurt a person that is dead. If a person is dead and you go hit them, they are not going to react. The do not care, they are dead. A dead person cannot be hurt.

If you are crucified with Christ, there is something liberating about that because you are not living for yourself. Usually when we are angry and bitter it is because there is a lot of pride and they hurt us and the self within us is offended. But if you are crucified with Christ, you say they hurt that dead person. I am a new creature. I am born again. Wouldn’t you like to have that experience?

Years ago, a famous artist in Italy named Leonardo da Vinci was asked to paint a very beautiful mural of the last supper. You have probably seen pictures of it before where Jesus is at the dinner table and he has John on one side on his right hand and Judas is on his left hand and then there is Peter on the other side of John, Jesus is in the middle and the twelve apostles are on the right and left. You have probably seen pictures of that before. It is a famous painting that Leonardo da Vinci did in this chapel. It’s a big mural that covers a wall.

Right when he was painting that painting, and it took him a long time, he got into an argument with another famous artist that became very public. His name was Michelangelo. They began to write open letters and insult each other. I do not remember everything they said, but Leonardo would say, oh, you think that you are a sculpture, you do not know anything about it. They were both architects, painters, sculptures and very brilliant.

They had some jealous pride thing that started going on and they started sending these public letters and everybody was reading the reports of what Leonardo and Michelangelo were saying about each other, insulting each other.

Finally, Leonardo got an idea. When it came time to paint the face of Judas on his mural, normally he used models and different people, but he thought, I know what Michelangelo looks like and he very skillfully on the left of Jesus, he painted in Michelangelo as Judas. As he was doing it, the thought ha ha ha. People came by and they watched him work and they said, oh, look at that. They could see what was happening and he felt pretty good about it. He thought, I am going to immortalize what a scoundrel he is. He was getting even.

But the last phase he wanted to paint was the face of Jesus. As he tried to paint the face of Jesus, oh, that is not right and he would strike it out and he would paint something else, oh, that is not right and he would strike it out and he would paint something else. This went on for weeks trying to paint the face of Jesus. He had the arms and the hands, but he could not get the face.

Finally, in desperation he prayed. He wanted to get that face of love and compassion and majesty of Jesus. Wouldn’t you like to see Jesus’s face? He prayed, here Leonardo all this time is talking to the Lord and he prays and he says, Lord, help me see your face. And he began to plead with the Lord, help me see your face.

Finally, he heard a voice speak to him. It said, you will never see the face of Jesus until you change the face of Judas. And he became convicted and he went and erased Michelangelo’s face there and painted in the one that you see today in that mural.

Some of us have never really seen the face of Jesus because we want to accept his forgiveness. But we have not been wanting to share it with others. That forgiveness may be someone very close to you in your family.

You know what would be the most wonderful thing that could happen after a message like this? I was preaching in Romania and someone came up to me after I shared this sermon and they said, Pastor Doug, my father and my brother have not talked in nine years. They were both sitting in church today, but they will not talk to each other. A father and a son. He said, during the sermon, after you said this, I turned and looked at my father and I went, meaning you have to call my brother.

There might be some people you need to call. There might be some letters you need to write. You might need to begin by apologizing to somebody that you are angry with. But if you really want to experience the Holy Spirit, humble yourself in the sight of God. Be reconciled with each other. That is the most important thing that could happen. That is one of the keys to the kingdom. God says they will know that you are my disciples, by what? Your love for one another.

I do not know everything about South African history, but I know you have some history where there has been some tension and there has been some division between different classes and different races and there have been some brutal things that have been done and probably everybody that wants to have a reason to be mad can be mad. But what a wonderful testimony it would be among God’s people if we could demonstrate what it means to be a Christian and really love our brother and forgive each other. Would you like to experience that forgiveness?

I would like to pray for you. We have someone that is going to bring a special item for us. I think Ian is going to sing in just a moment, but before he does, I want to have a special prayer and then I will have some concluding remarks.

If the Holy Spirit has spoken to you today and you realize maybe you have not completely believed in the King’s forgiveness or have been willing to share the King’s forgiveness and you would like for me to pray for you that you can do that right now, it takes supernatural help. If you want to stand in His presence and say, Lord, please help me to experience that forgiveness and to share that forgiveness, would you be willing to stand where you are and say, Pastor Doug, pray for me. I have been struggling. I want to know that I have that forgiveness. I want to be able to share it. It might be someone in your family, a spouse, children, that sometimes struggles. God wants us to forgive and to love each other. Praise God.

Father in Heaven, Lord, I believe you are very close right now because this is a message from your Son that we could completely understand and receive the incredible mercy that you are offering us, the ten thousand talents that we have squandered, and you are not only willing to forgive, you are willing to forgive and forget and cast our sins into the depths of the sea and look upon us as though we have the purity and the righteousness of your own Son. Thank you, Lord. I pray that joy that we feel from knowing we are forgiven will translate into our willingness to forgive others, even as Christ has forgiven us.

Bless these people, each one and their families. You know what the individual struggles are. If there is a letter they need to write or a phone call they need to make, a brother or a sister they need to walk up to and embrace, give them the grace and the courage to do that. And Lord, then pour out your spirit on your people and prepare us for your return. We believe the gospel will go to the world when we really understand this important key for forgiveness. We thank you and we pray this all in Jesus’s name, amen.

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