Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen


Title: Responding with Forgiveness


Text: Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?


Bible Reading: Matthew 18:21-35


21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.






How do you respond when you have been mistreated and hurt? 


All of us would probably have to admit that when we have been mistreated, we find it hard to have a Christ-like mind and to express the forgiving Spirit of Christ toward those who have mistreated us. 


We are more likely to become angry and try to get even.


But responding with anger, hostility, bitterness, and retaliation is the Devil’s way of destroying your home, your family, and your fellowship with others.


The subject today is “Responding with Forgiveness.”


There are three points I want to make about forgiving those who have wronged us, and the first is:


We All Have Experienced the Pain of Being Mistreated.


Every human being experiences mistreatment from others.


How we deal with it will go a long way toward determining our well being and happiness in life.


Let me list for you some of the ways people are abused and mistreated.


First, some have suffered abuse and mistreatment by their parents or by others in positions of authority over them while they were young and helpless.


I don’t even like to think about children being abused. 


Just the thought makes me angry. 


Yet, the news is full of this type of thing. 


As I write this sermon, a child was found locked in a closet; her mother kept her there and rarely let her out. 


Children in Africa are starving because soldiers will not allow food to get through to them. 


A little girl in Florida is abused and then killed by a child molester. 


I can’t begin to imagine the hurt that the parents are going through.


It’s not only children who are abused, many people experience repeated mistreatment in marriage.  


Dr. David Mace has stated that marriage provides the occasion for the experience of anger more than any other relationship in life because of its length and the close relationship it represents between two human beings, who at times may threaten one another.


Spousal abuse is so predominant now that safe houses have been set up in most cities to protect the wife and children from a husband and father that is out of control. 


I was watching Cops the other day; you know, the TV show that shows real police officers doing their job. 


What do you think most of the show was about? 


It was about domestic violence; usually a husband has beaten his wife, but sometimes it’s the other way around. 


I hope no one in here has ever been the object of abuse from their spouse.


Now, here’s something you don’t hear much about, but it happens. 


Parents often experience pain and agony through the immature and selfish attitude of their children. 


Drug use by young people, some who aren’t even teenagers yet, creates an atmosphere of fear in the home, because the addict will do anything to satisfy their habit. 


In fact, most of the crime today is done by junkies who steal and harm others to buy more dope. 


Children can also cause parents pain in other less threatening ways, and if you’re a parent, you know what I mean. 


Let me give you a personal example. 


I have a son in Kansas City that is in his thirties. 


Michael refuses to have anything to do with Sierra and me; in fact, we haven’t spoken in several years. 


It’s all because of jealousy. 


I won’t give you the details, but the point is, I think about him every day, and it hurts. 


I love him and I ask God continually to restore our fellowship. 


I pray that God will bring us back together before I die.


There is even another source of mistreatment: many experience pain and agony because of the stupidity and selfishness of a brother or sister.


The Bible has the most famous example of abuse of one brother by another. 


The two brothers I talking about are Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve. 


Even though they had the same parents and were raised the same, these boys were as different as night and day. 


Cain became a farmer, while Abel was a shepherd of sheep. 


At that time, everyone knew God and everyone worshipped Him.


There were no atheists, because it was too soon after creation. 


I believe Adam told his sons all about what happened in the Garden of Eden, and how God made them leave the garden because they sinned by disobeying Him.    


He must have also told them how the Lord showed that He loved them by making them clothes from animal skins.


Somehow, God revealed to them that their worship of Him must include the sacrifice of an animal. 


So Cain and Abel knew what God expected of them, but when the day for the sacrifice came there was a problem. 


Abel brought a sheep, but Cain brought some vegetables from his garden. 


God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s. 


He was angry with Cain and let him know it. 


But Cain didn’t like it, so he was mad at God, and jealous of Abel. 


He couldn’t get over it, and therefore he murdered Abel while he was working in the fields. 


Well, most arguments between brothers and sisters don’t end with murder, but they can cause pain and agony.


There’s one more source of pain: many people experience pain on the job where they earn their living.


It seems like any place I’ve ever worked, there was at least one person that didn’t like me. 


Sometimes they would hurt me in some way. 


There’s a saying children use, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” 


I believe you will agree when I say that statement is not true. 


It’s a long day on the job, when others make fun of you and criticize your work. 


Words have done more damage and caused more hurt than anything else. 


Words have started fights and wars, broke the heart of a loved one, and damaged children. 


The Bible compares hurtful words to a fire that destroys everything in its path. 


Every Christian must learn to control their tongue, because words spoken angrily or without thought can ruin their witness for Christ.


Peter must have experienced discomfort and injury from his brother, because one day he came to the Lord with this question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?” 


Jesus’ answer must have surprised Peter, because he replied by telling Peter that he should forgive seventy times seven.” 


In other words, we are to forgive those who hurt us every time.


At this Point, let’s look at what Jesus Taught about Forgiveness.


Our Lord comes through crisp and clear on how we are to deal with hurt and abuse.


For one thing, our Lord specifically forbids retaliation.


Our natural tendency is to want to get even, but that’s just the opposite of what Jesus taught and how He acted.   


He said that if you are slapped on one cheek, turn and offer the other cheek.


We are to avoid being vindictive and revengeful. 


We are to avoid striking out and returning evil for evil, curse for curse, blow for blow, injury for injury. 


That only creates a situation of being hurt and getting even that may never end. 


Instead, put an end to it by showing kindness to the one who has hurt you.


Our Lord does not suggest that we suppress hard feelings and ignore the wrong and hurt that we experience at the hand of others.


To do this would create a poison within our minds that would eventually produce an eruption. 


That’s what happens when you let your emotions get the best of you; you blow up.


Also, our Lord does not suggest that we retreat into self-pity, which can lead to discouragement, despair, and depression.


I had an uncle who was a dentist. 


He was still practicing when he was in his seventies. 


But, one day he was told he had cancer and he just gave up. 


He moved back to his home town, Minden Mines Missouri, where he died soon after the move. 


That’s what happens to a lot of people who feel sorry for themselves when they experience hard times and troubles. 


They become discouraged, desperate and depressed and they don’t live very long. 


The Bible tells us that we are different; we are not like others who have no hope. 


If you will just trust God, you will have all the security you need.


Our Lord specifically places on us the obligation to give the gift of forgiveness to those who mistreat us.


We often find it difficult to be forgiving, because we have a natural impulse to retaliate. 


We may find it difficult to be forgiving because we labor under the impression that to be forgiving may encourage continued mistreatment. 


Or we may find it difficult to be forgiving because we want the one who injured us to be worthy and to deserve the gift of forgiveness. 


Forgiveness is always an undeserved gift. 


I am thankful that God gives us the gift of forgiveness. 


If we wait until someone deserves our forgiveness we will harbor feelings of anger and hostility toward that person.


Our Lord not only taught forgiveness, but He also practiced the habit of forgiving. 


While He was on the cross suffering for the sins of mankind, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”


The first point was, We All Have Experienced the Pain of Being Mistreated, and the second was What Jesus Taught about Forgiveness.


The third and last point is—


The Grounds for Being Forgiven.


When Jesus suggested that His disciples give the gift of forgiveness “seventy times seven,” He was thinking of the terrible consequences that would take place in the hearts of the ill-treated if they refused to forgive. 


Jesus who always had perfect insight into human nature knew that hate in the heart would be like a cancer in the soul.


In several places in the Bible Jesus gives the reasons why we should be forgiving.


Today, I will give you four of them.


First, we are to give the gift of forgiveness, because we have received the gift of forgiveness (Matt. 18:23-27)


23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.


This Parable was used by Jesus to reinforce the importance of forgiveness.


It begins with a certain king, who represents God, to whom the debt is owed.


The one who owed Him is a servant who had access to the king’s money, and he represents the individual sinner; that is you and me.


Ten thousand talents was an overwhelming debt.


It would be equivalent to millions of dollars in our society.


It represents the debt of sin which the sinner cannot possibly pay by himself.


The king commands that the debtor be sold, along with his wife and children, and all that he owns, and that he receive all the profits.


However, that would not be enough to pay off his debt.


Even an entire lifetime of service to the king could never repay such a debt.


Then the compassion of the king can be seen as he releases the debtor and forgives (or cancels) the debt.


The point of the parable is God’s total forgiveness of our sins at the moment of salvation.


The debt has been paid by Jesus and we are set free from it forever!


Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:31-32).


The basis for Christians forgiving others is the fact that they themselves have been graciously forgiven by God, and released from any obligation to make amends.


Next, I want to say, “We need to consider the terrible cost of an unforgiving spirit if we have difficulty giving the gift of forgiveness” (Matthew 6:14-15).


It says in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” 


Today, God is forgiving us on the basis of what Jesus did for us, not on the basis of us forgiving someone else. 


God’s saving grace is in full view when God forgives us. 


The Lord’s Prayer is not talking about our salvation where it says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” 


He is talking, instead, to those who are already saved.   


He doesn’t wait for you to forgive before He forgives. 


This is not His method of settling the sin question. 


He gave His Son to die, and it’s on this basis that God forgives.


Once again, giving the gift of forgiveness is not a price we pay to receive forgiveness. 


But those who harbor hate and anger in their hearts have closed the door through which God’s forgiveness would come to them.


A third point is, we must give the gift of forgiveness in order to prevent Satan from establishing a beachhead in our thoughts.  (2 Cor 2:10-11)


It says in 2 Corinthians, “To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”


You see, the devil tries to push us one way or another. 


Sometimes the devil gets us to shut our eyes to gross immorality. 


There are many instances of that in our churches today. 


I read about a preacher who had trouble with women in three different churches. 


Each church he pastured, knew his past record, and still they accepted him as their Pastor! 


By shutting their eyes to this man’s gross immorality they were hurting the cause of Christ. 


That’s how Satan gets a beachhead in a church. 


Once he gets his foot in the door, he does everything he can to attack the Bible and peoples faith.


Finally, a forgiving spirit will bring healing to the injured spirit.


Many people tremble with pain because they have been mistreated and sinned against God. 


Jesus speaks to these people and He says we are to forgive “seventy times seven.” 


This is a strong statement that we need to take literally.


Every time we are hurt, we need to give the gift of forgiveness again. 


Some people can’t understand this. 


They think that if you do not forgive, that you will not be forgiven. 


In reality, it is impossible to forget. 


On the other hand if we forgive, and do it repeatedly, for all practical purposes, we will forget to the point of no longer harboring hate or striking out in retaliation. 




God’s forgiveness of each one of us is free, and it’s complete, and it’s forever. 


He doesn’t hold our sins over our head, but, instead, He offers forgiveness to each of us personally. 


On the basis of His forgiveness of us, we can be forgiving toward others. 


If you have been holding a grudge against someone, you can give yourself a clean heart and a clear conscience if you will ask our forgiving God to help you to give to that person who injured you the gift of forgiveness.


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