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The Depth of God's Grace (1 of 2)
One of the greatest challenges to human nature is the issue of forgiveness. Those who can't forgive themselves are filled with guilt and despair, and those who won't forgive others are filled with anger and bitterness. The most miserable people are the people who never let go of their bitterness. Have you ever met an old bitter man or woman? They can't enjoy life and those who love them can't enjoy them. Bitterness builds a barrier that keeps them caged in and the rest of the world closed out. The bitter person will cling to a hurt from the past and will never let go of it even though they know it is destroying them.
To various degrees, we all struggle with bitterness. When we cling to anger, we punish those that hurt us, and we destroy ourselves. We throw a pity party that only we can attend. We may be able to hurt others by our bitterness, but we also become isolated and lonely. Our fleshly nature always seeks what will destroy us, but God's commands always restore what the flesh erodes.
This is a two-part message that will first deal with how God forgives and the second part deals with how we forgive.
Let's look at the Bible's message of forgiveness. (read Matthew 18:21-35)
Forgiveness is a Need
The debt cannot be repaid. Jesus used the illustration of a destitute servant in debt to a powerful and wealthy master. The servant could only go into debt, yet his desire was to pay off the debt. His intentions were completely impossible. He was not a wage earner, he was a bondservant. Jesus intentionally used the most humble class of citizen to illustrate the point that earning forgiveness is utterly impossible. Look closely at the illustrations Jesus used.
The story begins by a servant giving an account for his debt. The record was read in his presence and he owed 10,000 talents to his master. To put this into perspective, 1 talent is approximately 200 pounds of gold ...
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