by Roger Thomas

This content is part of a series.

How to Stay Out of Jail (8 of 11)
Series: Parables Series: Surprising Lessons on the God-Life
Roger Thomas
Matthew 18:21-35

Introduction: Today I am going to ask you to do something you probably thought you would never hear somebody at church tell you to do. It may sound like it contradicts everything your mother or your Sunday School teachers ever taught from the Bible. But I am very serious. Today I am asking you to be selfish. I am going to outline two ways of life for you and ask you to decide which is best for you, what you will get the greatest benefit from and then to choose that one. I want you to think of yourself.

Nobody needs to tell most of us to be selfish. We come by it naturally. We have practiced it for years. Some of us have it almost perfected. But sometimes we forget. So today I want to remind you to think of yourself. Don't tune me out too soon. Listen closely. Today I want to appeal to you to think of yourself by forgiving others the hurts they have inflicted on you.

That's what today's parable is about. To get the full impact of his story of the unmerciful servant we need to look first at what prompted it. It had all started with an argument about who was the greatest or maybe the most important of the disciples. It may have been like children arguing, "The teacher likes me best. No, he likes me best." Jesus rebukes the childishness and then turns the discussion to the true test of maturity--how his disciples respond when someone sins against them. He calls for loving confrontation for the purpose of reconciliation. This whole subject just begged for somebody to ask the obvious question. So Peter does. "How many times do I have to forgive somebody." Probably trying to impress Jesus with his generosity, Peter suggests, "Seven times?" The common teaching of most Jewish rabbis (partly based on Amos 1:3, etc) was that the obligation to forgive ended with three offenses.

Jesus was unimpressed. He takes ...

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