If you will remember from last month’s pastor’s pondering, I heard a great sermon on forgiveness preached from the parable of the unmerciful servant from Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus invites us to see ourselves in the parable. The painful part is that we are to see ourselves in the place of the unmerciful servant because we are like him.
When you read the parable it is not easy to put yourself in the place of the unmerciful servant because he is the villain in the story and he comes to the end of the story and gets what he deserves. It is not at all comfortable for us to take the hard look in the mirror that Jesus is challenging us to do as he tells the story. As we consider the fact that we are sinners who are also sinned against, we need to consider both sides of our being.
We begin with the sinful side. This is where we bring the gospel to bear in our lives. Christ died for sinners and we hold to that truth with all that we are because we know we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior. The Scriptures say believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit enables us, we believe. Salvation, forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ is Good News. We may even struggle to understand why anyone would reject that gospel message. We need to understand that exercising faith in Christ is not simply an intellectual exercise. Certainly there is an intellectual aspect to it, there are facts that we need to know, but there is also an aspect of agreement. We must agree that this is true and that knowing and believing together is followed by our action. We hear the gospel and respond in faith because the Holy Spirit enables us to know and believe the truth and we are then able to act by placing our faith and trust in Christ. However, we don’t stop there. Real gospel change will be seen not in a person’s profession of faith (although profession is important).
Now lets take a look at the other side of things, the more difficult side. This is where we are called to apply the gospel to our lives when someone sins against us. Real gospel change is seen in the changed life. We can tell the difference between lost sinners and redeemed sinners by how they react when they are sinned against. We’ve stated that we are sinners who are also sinned against. The question we need to be asking is, how do I respond when someone sins against me? Do I sin against them in retaliation or do I seek reconciliation and forgive? If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been forgiven an impossible debt, just like the unmerciful servant. Now the question is will you show the same mercy that you have received? If so, you show forth the love of Jesus that is in you. If not, you show that the love of Jesus is not in you. It is a hard lesson. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.