SECTION 9: THE SERVANTS OF THE KING
LIFE LESSONS ON FORGIVING OTHERS
THE MERCIFUL OBTAIN MERCY LESSON
Scripture To Consider:
“Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained a brother. But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18.15-20
Something To Consider:
In warning His followers against giving offense, Jesus clearly tells them that, in this present world, offenses are sure to come. Therefore, now He proceeds to show how the disciples are to treat those who are guilty of sinning against their fellow Christians. His directions are calculated to guide each individual believer, but they are also designed for the instruction of the united body of believers which constitutes His church.
If then an offense has been committed, one is first of all to go to the offender alone and to seek for reconciliation. It is possible that the offender will repent, and that friendship may be restored. If, however, the offender is unwilling to confess his fault, then the one against whom the sin has been committed is to take with him one or two fellow Christians that in their presence the charge may be made and the appeal for repentance may be presented.
However, in case these private efforts fail, then the matter is to be referred to the authority of the church, and if the offender is still unmoved, he is to be excluded from the communion and companionship of the Christian body. He is to be regarded as an unbeliever. When discipline is thus carefully and sympathetically administered, the decisions of the Christian brotherhood will receive the sanction of God, and evil will be bound in heaven as it is on earth.
However, the church must seek guidance in prayer. The Master promises His presence and assures us of definite replies to our prayers. The promise first of all concerns these immediate cases of discipline, but its implications are much larger and its encouragement to united petition is inspiring.
As Jesus declared, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” And where Jesus is, so there is the true church! Where Jesus is there is liberty and truth. And where Jesus is there is the guidance and divine direction of the Holy Spirit of God as promised by Jesus Himself.
More Scripture To Consider:
“Then Peter came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him, up to seven times?’ Jesus said, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed ten thousand talents.’“
“But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made, the servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So, his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.”
So, when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So, My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brothers trespasses.” Matthew 18.21-35
Something Else To Consider:
In all this teaching as to the treatment of offenders, Jesus had been implying that pardon should always be granted to the repentant. It is not strange then that Peter questioned whether there were not limits to this generous forgiveness of offenders. Therefore, Peter asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him, up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Of course, our Lord was not speaking literally, but He did mean to teach that for a Christian there can be no limit set upon his or her willingness to forgive. To pardon the repentant reveals the princely spirit of a true follower of the King. It also shows a grateful appreciation of the pardon which Christ has secured for each one who has enlisted in His service. It was to also illustrate the further truth that Jesus had communicated in the parable of the unmerciful servant.
The parable is not recorded by any other writer; and it is in exact harmony with this gospel of the King, for the story describes a certain earthly king to whom one debtor owed ten thousand talents, some have estimated with inflation, that the debt owed by the merciless servant today may exceed one hundred million dollars. When the creditor had nothing to pay, and cried out for mercy, the earthly king representing Jesus the King, being moved with compassion, released him and forgave him his debt.
This of course is a priceless portrait of God and His pardoning grace extended to us while we were yet sinners and had no way to pay our sinful debt. Day by day our debt continued to increase to an amount that could never humanly be paid in full. Though one should live a perfect life in the future we would have nothing to offer for our failure in the past to render obedience and service which had been daily owed to the heavenly King.
Yet, God has freely forgiven us all our personal debt. He has graciously canceled every obligation for the sake of His dear Son Jesus, in whom we have our eternal redemption through His blood and through the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches in Christ Jesus and according to his merciful grace. In other words, our spiritual slate has been wiped clean!
What, therefore, have we done since our becoming new creatures in Christ? How have we shown or how are we showing our gratefulness for such undeserved mercy? These questions should give us something else to consider!
By way of striking contrast Jesus described another servant of the same earthly king who owed the forgiven debtor a trifling sum of one hundred shillings, probably less than one hundred fifty dollars. And yet, when he begged for mercy, he was cast into prison till he should pay all that was due. Is it not a searching picture of the ingratitude which we show when we feel unkindly and unforgiving toward our fellow Christian whose offense against us has been so little in comparison with the debt which God has forgiven us?
Is it not strange that Jesus concluded His parable by telling us of the rebuke the king administered to the heartless debtor he had forgiven; and how he was so angry that he delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due? Then Jesus added impressively, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his [or her] heart, does not forgive his [or her] brother [or sister] their trespasses.”
Surely the forgiveness of God cannot be claimed or enjoyed by those who are unwilling to forgive their fellow man, woman, and or young person. But in the view of the grace of God revealed to us in our Savior, we should remember the words of the apostle, “Be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ has forgiven you [and me].”
Something More To Consider:
Jesus declared a progression of sequential events as it pertains to church discipline, when He proclaimed in step #1; “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him alone. If he hears you, you have gained a brother.” That is, forgive him or her if they repent, and restore them to full fellowship. And according to Jesus, step #2 is “But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'”
And step #3, also according to Jesus, is less likely to be taken in most American churches so as not to offend anyone by taking sides or being guilty of appearing politically incorrect. Therefore, according to Jesus, “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen [an unbeliever] and a tax collector.”
But another age-old problem with step #3 in the biblical restoration process is, as it was even in Jesus’ day, within the usual 21st century church, there are plenty of legalistic stones for throwing, but very few truly worthy to cast them in the direction of another individual caught in the act of rebellion. That is a good thing if we are attempting to follow Jesus’ example of extending mercy. It is a bad thing if we are unwilling to do the hard thing because it is a hard thing.
Therefore, this last step in the progression is rarely attained. but it can never be considered a biblical reason for not implementing true biblical church discipline smothered in grace and mercy and a true desire for reconciliation. And yet, if we were all as little children in humility and dependence upon God, we would emulate the forgiveness and mercy of God that attracts rebellious sinners to the love of God shed abroad in our hearts.
Therefore, the life lessons on forgiving others must begin with the one who has been sinned against or mistreated. In other words, seeking another person to request our forgiveness for their sin, must begin with us showing true mercy rather than human required retribution.
So, when Peter thought he had grown in grace with his reluctant willingness to forgive someone of the same offense seven times, Jesus cleaned the black board of remembrance by stating, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” All of a sudden in Peter’s mind the number four hundred and ninety  was flashing in neon sequence over and over again!
And in the midst of probably total silence and extreme surprise and shock; Jesus breaks forth with a kingdom story to help Peter and all of us to better understand the spiritual lesson of a lifetime concerning our forgiving others Jesus has just presented. In other words, by the time we forgive someone four hundred and ninety times, we realize that we no longer are counting the times of our being sinned against, but rather we simply once again forgive the other human being because that is how God the Father forgives us in and through Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished!
A Few Final Words:
Someone has elegantly declared, “The first person to apologize is the bravest. The first person to forgive is the strongest. And the first person to forget is the happiest.” How true indeed! Jesus stated in Matthew 6.14-15, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men [women, or young people] their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Therefore, according to Jesus, so much for the “Come one come all no matter how you live false theory!” Jesus states the same spiritual mentality in our Scripture to consider, when He declared the truth in verse 35, speaking of eternal torment for hypocritical evil doers; “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if you, from his [or her] heart, does not forgive his brother [or sister] his [or her] trespasses.”
This lesson of forgiving others and willingly extending heart-felt mercy and true forgiveness unto others is extremely important according to Jesus. Therefore, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed all those with ears to hear, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother [or sister] has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother [or sister], and then come and offer your gift.”
In other words, according to Jesus, it is all about reconciliation and the restoration of fellowship both between God and our fellow man, woman, and or young person. And the end result to our classroom participation concerning life lessons on forgiving others is, the merciful always obtain mercy, while the merciless always eternally receive what they deserve. And that is according to Jesus!
Our Father in heaven, thank Your for the revelation of life lessons on forgiving others and the spiritual lesson of the merciful obtaining mercy. We pray for Your mercy and for Your kindness in our lives, which is what leads up to the repentance of our sins. Keep us from being concerned about counting the number of times others have sinned against us, as You have done so in the case of our personal sins against You and Your Son Jesus, our Lord and Savior. In Him Always, Amen!