Jesus’ Important Teaching on Forgiveness
By Rev. Dr. Sergio Arevalo, Jr.
September 14, 2014 (14th Sunday after Pentecost)
Bruce Goodrich was being initiated into the cadet corps at Texas A & M University. One night, Bruce was forced to run until he dropped — but he never got up. Bruce Goodrich died before he even entered college.
A short time after the tragedy, Bruce’s father wrote this letter to the administration, faculty, student body, and the corps of cadets: “I would like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of my family for the great outpouring of concern and sympathy from Texas A & M University and the college community over the loss of our son Bruce. We were deeply touched by the tribute paid to him in the battalion. We were particularly pleased to note that his Christian witness did not go unnoticed during his brief time on campus.”
Mr. Goodrich went on: “I hope it will be some comfort to know that we harbor no ill will in the matter. We know our God makes no mistakes. Bruce had an appointment with his Lord and is now secure in his celestial home. When the question is asked, ‘Why did this happen?’ perhaps one answer will be, ‘So that many will consider where they will spend eternity'” (sermonillustrations.com).
The Goodrich family could forgive due to their Christian upbringing and faith. That’s one of the good traits of being a Christian.
Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said in a moment of surprising candor in television, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me” (sermonillustrations.com).
Yes, forgiving is one of our good traits as Christians, but some of us might be like Peter who asked the Lord, okay Lord, I know I need to forgive my brothers, but how many times? Seven times? (Mt. 18:21).
This question is very important since every religion and culture has this good trait, forgiveness, but our forgiveness as Christian is unique and greather than other religions and cultures in the world since our forgiveness is unlimited!
However, that’s a big question for us nowadays, can we do that? Can we forgive others 77 times?
II.Important Answer on Forgiveness
Yes, indeed, that’s the answer of Jesus to Peter, “I tell you, not just seven times, but 77 times! (Mt. 18:22).
“Seventy times seven” means an infinite number of times. Thus, there is no limit to forgiveness. Why? Since love is not to be limited by the multiplication table (Popular Commentary of the NT). God’s love is vast and even the whole universe cannot contain it.
Christ’s meaning is, that a man should be all the days, and every day of his life, forgiving those that sin against him, as often as they repent and acknowledge their fault; and that no time is to be set for the exercise of the grace of forgiveness; but as often as there are objects and occasions, though ever so many and frequent, it should be used (John Gill).
Jesus narrated a parable as a concrete model example of God’s forgiveness.
That is why the kingdom from heaven may be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. When he had begun to settle the accounts, a person who owed him 10,000 talents (2m-7m pounds) was brought to him.
Because he couldn’t pay, his master ordered him, his wife, his children, and everything that he owned to be sold so that payment could be made. Then the servant fell down and bowed low before him, saying, “Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything!”
The master of that servant had compassion and released him, canceling his debt.
But when that servant went away, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him, seized him by the throat, and said, “Pay what you owe!”
Then his fellow servant fell down and began begging him, “Be patient with me and I will repay you!” But he refused and went and had him thrown into prison until he could repay the debt.
When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were very disturbed and went and reported to their master everything that had occurred.
Then his master sent for him and told him, “You, evil servant! I canceled that entire debt for you because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”
In anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he could repay the entire debt.
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each one of you unless you forgive your brother from your hearts (Mt. 18:23-35).
In the parable, Jesus showed how we’re going to forgive others. That’s also the prayer that the Lord taught us “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The art of forgiving is a spiritual grace every Christian should develop. Because this is so difficult to put into practice, Roy Smith offers the following suggestions:
1) Begin by assuring yourself that compared to Christ’s suffering you haven’t been seriously wronged at all. The sin of your brother against you was not so serious unlike what Jesus experience.
2) Recall the many kind deeds that have been shown to you, perhaps even by the person who has harmed you. Count your blessings and not the curses.
3) List the benefits you have received from the Lord. Top of your list must be your life, air you breathe in, freedom, faith, etc.
4) Thank Him for blessing you with His love and forgiveness each day.
5) Make an honest effort to pray for the one who has injured you. Have you experienced to pray for your enemies, for those who hurt you?
6) Go even further by looking for an opportunity to help him and not to hurt him.
7) If the offense is especially hard to forget, try to erase the memory by thinking gracious and generous thoughts.
8) Finally, before you fall asleep at night, repeat slowly and thoughtfully that phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (sermonillustrations.com).
On January 14, 1907, a group of Korean Christians and Western missionaries met in Pyongyang (now part of North Korea) for a Bible study in a church on the outskirts of the city.
Halfway through, God began to move. “They knew that the only way to survive was to depend on God,” Rev. Ji Il Bang of North Korean Church said.
One by one, the men confessed their sins to each other– sins of racial prejudice, hate, anger, and jealousy.
Pastor Bang said ,”They knew that nothing was impossible with God, and so they called on Him for forgiveness.”
God answered and revival broke out. In the ensuing months, thousands repented publicly, including elders of churches and foreign missionaries serving in Korea.
“And out of that, they say, they think came the work of the Spirit that finally broke out as at Pentecost,” Prof. Samuel H. Moffett, son of a missionary to Korea, said.
Thus began the Great Pyongyang Revival of 1907 (http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2007/June/The-Pyongyang-Revival-100-Years-Later/).
Brethren, do you want to experience revival in this church? Do you want to experience revival in your life? Start to find your enemies, those people you need to forgive, forgive them.