A PATHWAY TO EXPERIENCING GOD
1. PROBLEM WITH UNFORGIVENESS
The world's worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary)
§ If we refuse to forgive others, then we are only imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment. Warren Wiersbe.
§ Unforgiveness is bitter gall.
§ Like a venom it eats you from within.
§ Like a burdensome load, it drags you behind and pulls you down.
§ Unforgiveness kills.
Forgiveness is a central need and practice in Christianity. That is why Jesus taught it in prayer.
§ Pray for your NEED for forgiveness
§ Pray for ABILITY to forgive others
2. THE UNFORGIVING SERVANT: MATTHEW 18:15-35
Nature of forgiveness: Free, generous and total
Peter raised a serious question. According to the Jewish culture, one could forgive up to three times. So peter’s suggestion of 7 times was astronomical. But the answer that Jesus gave was rather astounding. 490 times!
70x7; complete seasons both long term and short term. It means that we forgive:
§  Every moment people fail us and offend us in petty ways.
§  When big and heavy offense is committed against us.
§ It talks about generous, free and total forgiveness.
3. CONTEXTS OF FORGIVENESS
a. Forgiveness and Sin
§ The very need for forgiveness is caused by our human nature that is fallen. Sin is the key character of the human fallen nature.
§ For the person who hasn’t found God’s forgiveness, it is all available. You can receive and experience forgiveness. Remember, every Saint has a past; every sinner has a future.
§ For the saint, remember you are not immune to sin. 1 John 1:9 reminds us of this.
b. Forgiveness and Mercy
… Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2:13
§ THE MASTER had mercy on the poor servant. It is thought that the servant had stolen.
§ We forgive because our offenders deserve our mercy. Merciless people cannot forgive.
§ Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7
c. Forgiveness and Love
§ The master expressed love, the Servant expressed hatred.
§ Forgiven much and loves much! Mary, formerly a prostitute.
§ Love covers over a multitude of sins. [1 Peter 4:8]
§ Hate puts you back into a prison house.
4. THE AMAZING CHARACTER OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS.
§ People can hold you as a criminal but God has forgiven you! They don’t know when God forgives. The skit of the servant who stole chicken and ate.
§ No condemnation! All the records of the past are blotted and buried. [No more fishing! Especially in the area of self-forgiveness]
§ Forgiven not because you deserve, but because the price of your forgiveness has been fully paid when Christ fully carried our penalty. 1 cross + 3 Nails = 4given.
5. WHY FORGIVE? God, You and Relationships
1. Strength for your relationship with God.
§ It’s His command; our obedience is an act of worship and this strengthens our communion with God.
§ Unforgiveness hinders prayer. [the woman who said she doesn’t want to pray because she will have to repent and forgive the husband in prayer]
2. Forgiveness works freedom in You. It’s about you more than it is about the offending person!
3. Heals relationships and fosters maturity of character. In it we affirm our humanity as fallen beings. Every person faces a challenge here and there.
OUTRAGEOUS FORGIVENESS: THE FORGIVENESS FLOWER
One day when a missionary was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends, he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes in an effort to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, "We call it the forgiveness flower."
This forgiveness flower does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses or hold us to a reciprocal arrangement. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives—freely, fully, richly. What a touching example of outrageous forgiveness!
6. DIFFICULT QUESTIONS ABOUT FORGIVENESS
1. Can one forgive and forget?
? Being at peace with the past.
? Yes and no. Petty issues can be forgotten, but deep issues cannot, but you can be free from pain and agony.
2. Does forgiveness mean no justice?
? Being at peace with the future.
? How do we interpret the fact that God is both just and merciful? Can he possibly show mercy with justice? Yes.
? We can forgive someone in prison but might not have the person out of prison.
Freely you have received, freely give!