Loving People You Don't Like - Week 3

Everyday Forgiveness

Week of January 23, 2022

Opening Prayer
God, we thank you for the ability to meet together again this week. Challenges, illness, schedules, weariness, skepticism, and apathy all conspired to keep us from gathering together, but still, here we are. These individuals and this group are your gift to us, so we thank you for meaningful moments, lively discussion, and heartfelt prayers. Fill our meeting with your spirit. We ask that this time will strengthen each of us and bring glory to you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Historical Context
This week we are reading from the Gospel of Matthew, one of four books in the Bible about the life and teachings of Jesus. A key to Matthew’s version of the story is highlighting how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures. Earlier in the book Jesus says he hasn’t come to abolish the Jewish law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). When it comes to forgiveness Jesus doesn’t abolish the Jewish tradition of forgiving those who have sinned against you three times. Instead, he ups the ante, telling his followers that there is no limit to the forgiveness they are expected to offer one another.

Read Aloud
Matthew 18:21-35

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?”

Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle accounts, they brought to him a servant who owed him ten thousand bags of gold. Because the servant didn’t have enough to pay it back, the master ordered that he should be sold, along with his wife and children and everything he had, and that the proceeds should be used as payment. But the servant fell down, kneeled before him, and said, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ The master had compassion on that servant, released him, and forgave the loan.

“When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred coins. He grabbed him around the throat and said, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’

“Then his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he threw him into prison until he paid back his debt.

“When his fellow servants saw what happened, they were deeply offended. They came and told their master all that happened. His master called the first servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you appealed to me. Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt.

“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


Engaging Scripture
  • Many rabbis at the time agreed that a person needed to offer forgiveness to someone three times. What do you think the people thought when Jesus said they must forgive seventy-seven times?
  • The story Jesus tells here is a parable. Parables are relatable stories used to illustrate spiritual lessons. What lesson do you take from this parable?
  • How do the sizes of the debts of the two servants change how you think about the forgiveness they are seeking?
 
Application Questions
It seems obvious that the task of loving people we don’t like will require forgiveness, but that doesn’t make it easy. When asked about forgiveness Jesus makes it clear that it is a foundational part of God’s character and a key to maintaining relationships. Forgiveness is a process that helps us let go of hurt even in relationships that have not been reconciled. Our challenge is to practice forgiveness everyday.

  • Our culture is great at supplying us with reasons to withhold forgiveness. List some of the common reasons we are told we don’t actually have to forgive others.
  • What is difficult about Jesus’ instruction to forgive over and over again? How do you overcome forgiveness fatigue in a relationship?
  • We forgive because God first forgave us. What does God’s forgiveness mean to you personally?  
  • What is one small act of forgiveness you can do this week? Who can you extend forgiveness to, even for a small instance?

Closing Prayer 
Written by Terry Stokes @prayersfromterry

Taking it Further
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu on forgiveness:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo2LGGqtjqM

  • How do we receive the forgiveness that God offers us? Pastor Matt preached about that in a past sermon series. Check it out:
https://subspla.sh/2384y34

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