Forgiving – We are never more like our heavenly Father than when we forgive. Nothing is more Christian than forgiving. You are children OF YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN when you forgive. The process of forgiveness begins with love by praying for those who have injured you exactly as Jesus said to do. Pray for, not against them. Bless them. Ask the Lord to do good things for them.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
by Delbert Young
Scriptures: Matthew 6:9-15; Matthew 18:21-35; Matthew 5:43-48; Job 42:7-10
Let’s give the Lord a prayer and a praise… Before you are seated, I want you to recite with me what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Be seated. We are in our series DEAL OR NO DEAL? As we recited, how many said, “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…”? How many said, “…forgive us our sins as we forgive those who…”? How many said, “…forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”? Now let me make my point. Today we will talk about the Lord’s deal on FORGIVING.
Matthew 6:9-12 …Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.
In that prayer, are you asking God to do something, or telling him to do something? You are not asking. It is more that you make a declaration. Jesus did not say forgive us our sins or trespasses. Jesus said “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” We usually quote it wrong and miss the emphasis Jesus made. Why did Jesus use the term debt? Let’s think about that. There had to be a reason. Let’s say you have legal debts at the bank for your house and car. You have a certain time to pay the debts. If you refuse to pay the debtsconsequences happen. You will get notices in the mail, phone calls, collection agencies become involved, garnishments, and perhaps even a legal trial before a judge. Jesus used the term debts to put this into a context we can all relate. We relate to debts.
The forgiveness of your sins (trespasses) creates debts you owe Father God. We do not think of our sins that way but it cost a lot to forgive sins. What did it cost? It cost the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus said as you forgive your debtors. He likened your sinning against God and what he experiences, to what you experience when someone sins against you. How many have had someone hurt/injure you deeply. Did you feel they OWED YOU an apology, or OWED YOU an explanation, or maybe OWED YOU retribution financially, or maybe they needed to die (kidding, but you probably felt that way initially)?
The word forgive, as in “forgive us” and in “as we forgive” (af-ee’-ay-mee) means to send forth, to send away. Jesus said to tell – not ask – your heavenly Fatherto send away debtsyou owe him exactly AS you send away debts others owe you. Let’s read that again and read a few more verses.
Matthew 6:12-15 And FORGIVE us our DEBTS, as we FORGIVE our DEBTORS. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For IF ye FORGIVE men their TRESPASSES, your heavenly Father will also FORGIVE you: But IF ye FORGIVE NOT men their TRESPASSES, neither will your Father FORGIVE your TRESPASSES.
As Jesus ended teaching how to pray, he immediately explained what he meant aboutdebts and forgiveness. He said for (because, here is why it is so necessary to allow this prayer outline to guide your prayer life and why it is so important to understand this) IF youforgive people their trespasses (he changed debts to trespasses) your heavenly Father will forgive you. However, IF you refuse to forgive – send forth/make go away what others owe you, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO MAKE SINS GO AWAY and the only sins we can are the ones owed us. The word trespasses (par-ap’-to-mah) means “unintentional” and “willful” sins. I do not know about you, but I want the Lord to forgive the things I “willfully” do wrong and the things I have no clue I did wrong. How horrible it would be to think I was going to “heaven” only to discover I did something “unintentionally” wrong and ended up in hell.
Before we go further, WHAT IS THE LORD’S DEAL OR NO DEAL CONCERNING FORGIVENESS? If you forgive people – make their trespasses go away – your heavenly Father will forgive you. If you will not forgive people, your heavenly father will not forgive you – make your trespasses go away.
A four-year-old was praying one night after listening to the preacher at church. He said, “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.” I do not know if that is a true story or not, but it certainly is accurate. How many have had people put trash in your basket? We put trash in our own hearts (baskets) and others put trash in our hearts too. To clean up my heart, I must get rid of and send away the trash I put there and the trash others put there. I will never have a clean heart (basket) if I pick through the trash saving some of it. I cannot say, “I am going to save this stinky, fly attracting, maggot filled, toxic trash” and throw away this stinky, fly attracting, maggot filled, toxic trash.” It all must go to have a clean heart.
I do not know how you deal with your trash at your house. Our main trashcan is in our kitchen (where we cook life). It has a trash bag inserted into it. When the bag is full (which seems to happen way to frequently – spiritual point there), it is my job to take the bag to a pick up location behind our house. The trash truck comes and the trash is sent fort, sent away. I sort of know where it goes, but, you know what, I really do not care. It is GONE! I am not required to deal with it anymore. I do not have to smell it, or look at it, or walk around it, etc. It is gone! The trash I put in my basket, what Judy put in my basket, or what anyone who entered my house put in my basket is gone. I do not go through it and save any of that stinky, fly attracting, maggot attracting, toxic trash. It is sent away. I AM FORGIVEN!
Here is what I do not do with my trash. (I will use an example of a bag of stinking garbage dumped on a piece of black plastic.) I do not pick through it and save any of that nasty, stinking garbage. I do not say, “I think I will save this nasty meat wrapper and this coffee grounds filter.” I do not go through this picking out the stuff I put in there and the stuff Judy put in there. I want it all gone. By the way, the stuff she puts in the basket usually stinks a lot more than the stuff I put in there. What others put in your basket can stink up your heart the worst if you do not clean out your basket. This is just a few days worth of trash and only a few days old. What if I keep piling trash in my house for weeks, months, or YEARS? How rancid would that be? Yet, people, probably some of you, have trash in your heart that has been there for years. Maybe all your life. Maybe someone put some trash in your basket when you were a child. Maybe someone molested you. Maybe an “x” injured you deeply. My point is it is still in there unless you forgive your debtors. I watch people attempt to “cook” life, but never send forth their trash. I watch them go through life hating and bitter. Yet, from their youth, they all know the Lord said, Forgive us our DEBTS, AS WE FORGIVE our DEBTORS.
I read a sermon by Rich Cook titled Lose the weight of Unforgiveness. He shared a personal story about friends who went through a divorce. “The divorced couple stayed in the same church. They shared custody of two children. The husband’s parents were so bound in unforgiveness, that when challenged by the pastor, the divorced man’s mother said, “You don’t know what she did. If it sends me to Hell, I’ll never forgive her.” The woman may well get what she said. Charles Spurgeon said, “Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord’s prayer.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “Those that come to God for the forgiveness of their sins against him, must make conscience of forgiving those who have offended them, else they curse themselves when they say the Lord’s prayer.” I fear today that I could take out the previous story of the mother who refused to forgive and replace it with some of your stories. Could I? If it sends you to hell, you are not going to forgive it.
Jesus told a vivid parable to make certain that we would get his forgiveness teaching. We find it in Matthew 18:21-35.
Matthew 18:21-23 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
The kingdom of heaven is not something in the future. It was in operation then and it is operating now. Jesus told us how it works. It is like a servant who owed his lord/king a debt of about ten million dollars. The servant asked for mercy and the king granted mercy by forgiving – getting rid of, sending away – the entire debt (Mat 18:24-27). However, a fellow servant owed a few hundred dollars to the servant whom the lord/king forgave that great debt. The servant forgiven such a great debt refused to forgive his fellow servant’s small debt. He had his fellow servant put in prison. (Mat 18:28-30). Here is where you may have some theology problems. The lord/king heard about this and summoned again the servant he previously forgave. Here is what Jesus said happened.
Matthew 18:32-35 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “THIS IS HOW MY HEAVENLY FATHER WILL TREAT EACH OF YOU UNLESS YOU FORGIVE YOUR BROTHER FROM YOUR HEART.“
I know it goes against popular theology. Though once forgiven the debt, the master cancelled the forgiveness and brought back the debt. He removed the forgiveness. Jesus said this is how “Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”You cannot keep trash in your basket. Your heart must be cleaned.
Jesus said, “each of you.” There are no exceptions. Who do you need to forgive today? Perhaps you need to forgive your fellow church member, your parent(s), siblings, co-workers, spouse, “x” spouse, relatives, someone who did you wrong in a business deal, someone who said or did something maliciously to you, etc. DO YOU HAVE SOME TRASH CONCERNING FORGIVENESS IN YOUR HEART? Please, bag it up and send it away today.
My not forgiving hurts me much more than the person I refuse to forgive. I am the one tortured, not him or her. I remember once walking into our house when the trash had not been taken out. The smell was horrific and gagging. That is what happens when we refuse to clean our hearts. The smell of the trash takes away your breath and your joy. It will cause you not to sleep. The odor will become toxic. You will eventually become physically and mentally sick if you refuse to send it away. Your blood pressure will go up. You will stress out. Depression will grip you. All sorts of medical problems develop. People who refuse to forgive are in a toxic prison of torture. They are miserable and unhappy people and there are no exceptions. Jesus said, “each of you.”
Forgiveness is a process and begins with a decision. Once you make the decision, forgiveness will happen. We all know that and we actually battle more with making the decision than forgiving the person. I use “The Lord’s Prayer” as a guide when I pray. I remember once when my trash basket was full of trash that someone else put there. I was saving it and smelling it every day. It had a horrible stench and a toxic affect on my life. I was in hate mode, angry, vindictive, could not sleep, becoming ill, and consumed with this trash. The stench consumed my entire house, i.e. body. I would pray and when I would get toforgive my debts as I forgive my debtors, I would cringe. I knew what I had to do, but I could not make that decision. In fact, I would tell the Lord why he should kill the person I had bitterness toward. I am kidding, but I did think he should do something bad to them. Finally, I made the decision to forgive and began the process of cleaning out my trash basket (heart). That person would not control my life, health, or mess up my salvation.
I said that our forgiving – cleaning out the heart – is a process. How do we process forgiveness. How do we forgive?
Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU,THAT YOU MAY BE SONS OF YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you LOVE those who love you, WHAT REWARD WILL YOU GET? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you GREET only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? BE PERFECT, THEREFORE, AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.
We are never more like our heavenly Father than when we forgive. Nothing is more Christian than forgiving. You are children OF YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN when you forgive and are forgiving. The process of forgiveness begins with love by praying for those who have injured you exactly as Jesus said to do in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Pray for, not against them. Bless them. Ask the Lord to do good things for them. Greet them when you see them. If you continue to hate them, not pray for them, and refuse to speak to (greet) them, you are no different from a pagan (lost). You prove your salvation by your ability to forgive. Are you a forgiving person?
Jesus said, WHAT REWARD WILL YOU GET? There are rewards for forgiving. Have you ever read the book of Job? That is a strange book. For some reason, the Lord turned Job over to Satan and Satan could do anything but kill Job. I guess every preacher has his/her opinion as to why God did that. I think it was because Job had not forgiven some of his acquaintances. It certainly aligns with what happened to the servant in Matthew 18. Delbert, why do you say that? Well, most of the book of Job is bad theology. It is about Jobs acquaintances telling Job why he was sick and why God allowed bad things to happen to Job and it is all wrong.
Job 42:7-10 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have NOT SPOKEN OF ME what is right, as my servant Job has… My servant Job will PRAY FOR YOU, and I will accept his prayer…AFTER JOB HAD PRAYED FOR HIS FRIENDS, the LORD made him prosperous again andGAVE HIM TWICE AS MUCH AS HE HAD BEFORE.
PHONE RING: God wants to prosper us. He wants to heal our bodies and give us twice as much as we could ever imagine. However, it cannot happen until we forgive, through prayer, and clean out our trash baskets – hearts. Where is your life today? It is where your heart is concerning forgiveness and forgiving. The Lord says, If you will forgive others, I will forgive you and I will reward you. DEAL OR NO DEAL?
Other Related Sermons:
Rich Cook, sermoncentral.com, Lose the weight of unforgiveness
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 24, page 694
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.