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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Our Greatest Need - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Our Greatest Need - Part 2


Robert Jeffress - Our Greatest Need - Part 2
TOPICS: Prayer That Really Work, Prayer, Forgiveness

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again to Pathway to Victory. We all know what it's like to feel snubbed by a co-worker at the office, or hurt by a friend's careless comment. And while forgiving an offense is rarely easy, the cost of holding on to grudges is even greater. Which is why Jesus included forgiveness in his model for prayer, found in Matthew, chapter 6. Is there someone you need to forgive? Refusing to forgive could have dire consequences in your physical, emotional and spiritual life. My message today is titled, "Our Greatest Need," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Remember the story, Peter asked the question, "Lord, how many times should I forgive? Three times, seven times"? Jesus said, "No, 70 times seven". An unlimited amount of time. And to answer the question, "Well why should I forgive people who continually wrong me"? Jesus told this story, beginning in verse 23. Now here's the summary of the story. A king was having some cashflow problems. So he needed some quick money and so he took a list of everybody who owed him money and he started with the person who owed him the most money and it happened to be one of his slaves who owed him 10.000 talents. Now a talent was 70 pounds of gold in Jesus' day. And I did the calculations, Friday, on this, because the price of gold has been going through the roof, as you know. I think Friday it closed at $1.204 an ounce. So I got my calculator out, trying to figure this out. If we're talking about 10.000 talents of gold, one talent is 70 pounds. I calculated that to be $16 billion. That's how much this lowly slave owed the king. $16 billion in today's dollars.

You have to wonder, how did he get into that kind of debt? Did he play the horses too much, you know? Too many trips to Las Vegas? I don't know what the problem was but he was owing a debt he could not pay in 1.000 lifetimes. But the king had every legal right to ask for it. It was a real debt. So he said, pay up! If you don't pay up, I'm gonna throw you, your wife, and your children into prison until you pay everything. Verse 26 says the slave fell down before the king and started begging him for mercy. And this pagan heathen king, when he saw this slave bowing down before him saying, have mercy on me and I will repay you everything. Look at what verse 27 says, "The king, the lord of that slave, felt compassion, and he released him, and he forgave him his debt". That word forgive means to let go of. And that's exactly what the king did. He let go of that debt.

What a tremendous picture of our relationship with God. You and I, because of our sin we talked about, we owe God a debt of payment for our sin that we could never never repay. And how foolish it is for some people who think they have this enormous $16 billion debt with God, a sin debt that they could never repay, and they say, well no, Lord I'll get back with you on that. Let me tell you how I'm planning to repay my sin debt. I think I'll get up into this Baptistry, the First Baptist Church in Dallas and splash a little water on me. And surely that ought to satisfy the debt? Surely you ought to be happy with me for that? Doesn't that take care of it? You think getting wet in that Baptistry is going to satisfy the enormous debt you owe? I mean why would God get excited about you getting wet? I mean what does that have to do with your sin problem?

Other people, well I'm gonna join the church. Whoop-de-doo! Okay. I'm gonna tithe. Okay, you know, I'm gonna give some of my income and maybe that will take care of my sin problem. Or I'm gonna do the best I can God, surely that's good enough. Well the fact is we don't have the capacity to repay our debt to God. We have to beg for mercy. And what the king did is a picture of what God did for us. You know what the king did? He took the loss himself. He effectually paid off that debt himself. And that's what God did for us. He sent Christ to pay the debt for us. But the story doesn't end here. Here's where it takes an interesting turn. Here's the turn.

There's a slave that's been forgiven a $16 billion debt and he goes out and he finds a fellow slave who owes him 100 denarii. That's $16 in today's dollars. One denarii is worth 16 cents, one day's wage. 100 denarii, $16. He finds this slave who owes him $16, grabs him by the nape of the neck, starts to shake him and says, pay me everything or I will have you and family put into prison. And the slave, the second slave, begs for mercy. Please have mercy on me and I'll repay you everything. But unlike the king, this first slave said, no mercy today for you. And he threw him into prison until he should repay everything. When the king heard about this, his blood pressure went through the ceiling. When he heard what this first slave had done, he had him hauled back to the palace. He said, how could you, who have been forgiven so much, how could you refuse to forgive so little? And the king ordered that this first slave be turned over to the torturers until he should repay everything. And then Jesus says the zinger, "So shall my Heavenly Father do to each one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart".

What's Jesus saying to us about the relationship between receiving God's forgiveness and extending it to others? Jot down these two truths you see in this parable and in the Lord's prayer. First of all, forgiveness is granted, not earned. Forgiveness is granted. It's not earned. I've done a lot of writing, speaking and preaching on the subject of forgiveness, and I will tell you, hands down the greatest misconception about forgiveness is we have to make people earn our forgiveness. We can't forgive somebody until they earn it. That is they have to ask for it, they have to be repentant, they have to make restitution, they have to rebuild the trust relationship. Until somebody does that, I cannot forgive them. Nothing could be further from the truth. We forgive unconditionally, unilaterally. And that's what the first king did.

This person, this king, he forgave this slave his $16 billion debt without ever demanding repayment. Why did he do that? Why did he forgive this debt without making the servant repay him anything? First of all, the king recognized that the debt he was holding was uncollectible to begin with. I mean here's a slave who owes $16 billion, exactly, how is he gonna repay that kind of debt? Take it out of his check every week? Is that gonna repay the debt? Of course not. This king realized this slave could never repay him anyway, so what profit is there in waiting to forgive until he repaid him? I think one reason we have a difficult time letting go of people who hurt us, releasing those offenses, we wanna hold on until that person pays us back what they owe us, we think in our minds, there's something that other person could do to make us feel better. But often, our offender is powerless to do anything to make up for what they've done to us.

I mean for example, what could somebody do to make up for a child killed by a drunk driver? How many years would they have to serve in prison until you felt better and got over the death of your child? No matter how long they spend in jail, you're not gonna feel better about losing a child. I mean what could somebody do to make up for a marriage destroyed by adultery? What could somebody pay you to make up for that innocence destroyed by incest? The fact is, our offenders are powerless to repay us for the debt they owe to us. The king recognized that, so he said the better thing is to let go of that offense. But even more importantly, the reason the king forgave this slave was so that he could be free to get on with his life. I mean he didn't wanna keep holding on to this debt, going down to the treasury every day and saying to the chief treasurer, did the 16 cents come in today to apply to that $16 billion debt? I mean that's a lousy way for a king to spend his time. He knew the better thing to do was just to let it go, take the loss himself, and move on with his life.

Now listen to me, when you make your forgiveness of another person dependent upon what that person does, or doesn't do, you're making yourself a prisoner to the person who's already hurt you. You can go no further in life than he or she is willing to go. And if they choose not to ask for your forgiveness or die before they ask for your forgiveness, that means you have sentenced yourself to a lifetime of bitterness. Why would you do that to yourself? You see, forgiveness is the process by which you say to God, what this person did was wrong, they deserve to pay for what they've done to me, but today I'm giving up, I'm letting go of my right to hurt them for hurting me so that I can be free to get on with my life. That's what forgiveness is. Forgiveness isn't about denying that you were wrong. It's not rationalizing, minimizing the hurt you experienced. Forgiveness is the process by which I let go of that offense so that I can move on with my life.

Does it hurt, help, the offender? Eh, maybe, maybe not, but that's not the issue. It's like somebody said, you know, letting go of a poisonous rattle snake you've been holding on to, when you let go of it, yeah the snake benefits. But it also helps you a lot. It's the same way with bitterness. You know somebody said refusing to forgive is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. It doesn't do the rat any good or any harm, it's what it does to you. Lewis Smedes said, when we forgive, we set the prisoner free. And the prisoner we set free is us. Forgiveness is something that's granted, not earned. But notice also what Jesus taught. He said, "Forgiveness is the obligation of the forgiven". Forgiveness is the obligation of the forgiven. In the story, the slaves of the king, when they heard about this first slave being unwilling to forgive the debt, they went and tattled to the king.

Now there's no evidence that they were Christians. They were heathen slaves. But even these heathen slaves knew there was something inherently wrong with a man who had been forgiven so much refusing to forgive so little. And God says the same thing to us. The reason we forgive and let go, is because of the forgiveness we have received. Forgiveness is the obligation of those who have been forgiven. There are some of you here this morning, some of you watching on television, you have been deeply hurt by another person. Please understand this. Jesus is not minimizing the hurt you've experienced. He understands it. He knows what it's like to be betrayed by those closest to you. To be deserted by friends. He understands all of those emotions. Jesus is not minimizing the hurt you've experienced. What he's asking you to do is to put that hurt in perspective.

You see, we always focus on what other people have done to us without focusing on the hurt we have caused God through our sin. And Jesus said, before you get all hung up on this wrong that's been committed against you, remember the hurt that you have caused the holy God. Jesus is saying the difference between how much somebody has hurt you and how much you have hurt God is the difference between $16 and $16 billion. And that's why there is this relationship between receiving forgiveness and extending that forgiveness to other people. In Ephesians 4:32 Paul said, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God and Christ has forgiven you". But Jesus said it negatively in verses 14 to 15. Look at this, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your father will not forgive your transgressions".

It's interesting to me that people say they take the Bible literally, somehow, wanna spiritualize this truth. They wanna say, well you know Jesus really didn't mean what he said here. He didn't really mean that if you don't forgive other people God will not forgive you. Well if he didn't mean that, then what did he mean? Could it have been more plain? Jesus said, your forgiveness from God depends upon your willingness to forgive other people. Well what is Jesus saying here? Is he saying that we earn God's forgiveness by forgiving other people? Of course not. We've just seen, there's nothing we can do to make up for the debt of sin that we owe God. We don't earn it by forgiving other people. Or is Jesus saying that if I refuse to forgive somebody, God takes away my salvation, I lose my salvation? Of course not.

Romans 11:29 says, the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Well then what is Jesus saying? Simply this, if you keep saying about a person who has hurt you, I will not forgive, I refuse to forgive, it doesn't mean you lose your salvation. It means you never had it to begin with. Because a person who truly understands and accepts the payment that God made for their sin cannot help but forgive other people. Forgiveness is the result. It is the obligation of those who have been forgiven.

Years ago I pulled this story from the Dallas Morning News because it made such a profound impression upon me. It was about a newly wed couple, Lori and Douglas White, who were taking a stroll at a nearby junior college on the athletic track after work. And as they were walking around the track they were talking about the things that newly weds talk about. Buying a new home in the future. Their career, the possibility of children. When suddenly out of nowhere, an unknown stranger appeared. A stranger who would change their lives forever. The man accosted them and asked them for their money.

And now I read from the Morning News: until the man showed them his gun, neither of the White's believed they were in danger, because they had encountered panhandlers before, Lori white said. But when he showed the gun, they immediately began praying. Which irritated the gunman, and prompted him to command, "Yeah, you better pray. Where is your God now"? Despite the man's taunts, Mrs white said she and her husband kept praying. "We were just asking God for forgiveness. Doug said, 'please don't let him hurt Lori'". Mrs white said her husband could have easily overpowered the smaller man but he didn't try. He even offered to return to the truck for his wallet, though he had left it at home.

"Behaving real cold," Mrs. White said the man ordered them to lie on the ground. "He told us not to turn around. And Doug turned toward him. The guy said, 'you looked at me. You shouldn't have done that,'" she said. "He told us to just lay down. He was right behind Doug. I was just a step or two from him". As she walked toward the grass, she said her husband abruptly shouted to her, "Run Lori"! She refused. "I told him I wasn't leaving him. The guy said, 'if you run, I'll blow his blanking head off'. I told Doug I wasn't going to leave him". Mrs. White said the first of two shots came as a surprise.

"I heard my husband say, 'oh God, I'm bleeding'". Mrs. White declined to discuss the details of her attack. She remembers the man pointing the gun at the back of her head, sometimes in her ear, as he assaulted her about 60 feet from where her husband lay dying. "While I was praying," Lori said, "I had a thought. Forgive him". "I couldn't understand then why I had that thought, but I understand now. Jesus forgave the world when he was crucified so that I could forgive my attacker". The greatest need you and I have this morning is the need for forgiveness. Hear what Jesus is saying. We cannot truly forgive others until we have been forgiven by God. And we cannot be forgiven by God unless we are willing to forgive others. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
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