The Unforgiving Servant (2)
Commandment Four: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy"
The Fourth Commandment says we should honour the Lord with our time. We were made in God’s image and He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. God made us to rest one day in seven. In ancient Russia they tried to change the days of the week from 7 to 10 days, with the exception of one day of rest. This resulted in people having nervous breakdowns; they were so over worked and run down that they were not surviving. Because God made us with us with a clock, just as God made a woman to give birth in nine months or thereabouts. So we have a clock, we are designed to operate on a seven day basis. That is just the way God made us, and one day out of the seven we are to rest. We will live longer that way, we will live happier that way, we will get more done that way, if we will set one day apart for rest. Six days you can work, He says, but the seventh day should be different.
The whole week we are often absorbed in our labours, our minds are on the things we have to do, but God says we need to have one day of natural rest and spiritual refreshment every seven. Your thoughts should cease from your work, and get back on the Lord, it’s a time to focus again on the Lord and meditate on the Lord and make sure your life is still lining up with God’s will. Now we don’t follow the Sabbath legalistically any more. They would do it very strictly in the Old Testament. It is not like that now but it is still very wise, if you want to have a good long life, to rest one day out of seven. You will find great blessing and life. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. We honour the Lord that way. All time is given by Him but we acknowledge that by giving Him a portion of that time each week back to Him. Take time to come before the Lord and focus your mind on Him so that your life keeps going in God’s purposes. The fourth commandment tells us that we must put God first in the way we structure our time.
Commandment Five (verse 12): "Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives thee".
You need to have respect for authority. Most of all, you must have respect for father and mother, respect for police, respect for those in authority. It does not mean that they are always right, but you need to have a healthy respect for them, and that will bring the best out of them too. Now if you have grown up it does not mean you have to obey your father and mother in everything. While you are under their roof you need to. But you should still respect and honour them, even if they are not Christians, it is still right to respect and honour your father and mother. If you want to have a good life you had better do it! That is the way God has made us.
Commandment Six (verse 13): "Thou shalt not kill".
Actually this means you shall not murder. There are times – for example capital punishment is valid according to the Bible for certain offenses – there are certain wars that are just and it is right to kill in some circumstances. But you should not murder, that is what He is saying here. In other words, this is based on the fact you should have a respect for life. Every person is sacred in the sight of God. We are made in God’s image. Their life is a gift from God and you should not try to destroy that life. Murder is wrong because a life is destroyed out of vengeance and/or hatred. It is God who gives life and they are accountable to God and ultimately they must face God. Jesus made it clear that all malice is wrong, all revenge is wrong, all hatred in one’s heart is wrong. When one meditates in their heart about murdering a person or when they are want them to suffer or even find delight when things go wrong for the other person, that is all the spirit of murder and hatred.
When somebody has really hurt us, if we are honest, there is something in us that rejoices when things go wrong for them. That rejoicing is a spirit of murder. It’s not necessarily an evil spirit in us but rather it is a wrong attitude which goes against the sixth Commandment. It is so important to get free from that because these little twists in our personality may turn us into an unlovely person. This means cruelty is wrong. Unnecessary cruelty is wrong. Violence is wrong. Abortion is wrong. Suicide is wrong, because that is self-murder. In all these things a life is being destroyed. Life is sacred and should be blessed rather than destroyed.
Commandment Seven: "You should not commit adultery".
This is saying that sex is sacred, marriage is sacred, and should not be abused. God designed sex. Sex is not embarrassing to God and we should not be embarrassed by the subject of sex. Sex is something wonderful and God designed it to be part of a committed marriage relationship and it belongs in that context. Sex outside the marriage, is called adultery. Fornication is sex before marriage and this is seen as an abuse of sex. Sex is a gift from God and should not be abused. It is something that is sacred and belongs inside marriage and that is where the blessing is. If sex is abused rather than respected, it scars and hardens our souls. We also build confusion into our lives because we are misusing what God has given us. The best example of this is prostitutes. The hardness is evident on their faces. They age at twice the speed. Jesus made it clear, it is not just physical adultery, one can commit adultery in their heart. Mental adultery as Jesus said is wrong.
Commandment Eight(verse 8): "You shall not steal"
This shows that everyone has certain rights of private property; you have rights to your privacy. And when one steals, they are taking what does not belong to them. This can include a number of things. Stealing can be in business, where you should give someone their due but you don’t. Or you owe someone something and you are able to pay them but you do not pay them. You are stealing from that person. You might be an employee at work and you are being paid for eight hours work but you find ins and outs and you only put in five hours. You are stealing from your employer. You should give value for your money at work. You can steal someone’s reputation when you maliciously gossip about them. Fornication: you are stealing because in Leviticus it said that a person’s nakedness belongs only to their marriage partner. So if you are having sex before marriage you are stealing from whoever is going to be their marriage partner because their nakedness, that special thing that God has given them, you are taking, and it does not belong to you until you are married. Then you belong to one another when you are married, in a sense you own one another. And then it is rightly given and you are not taking it, it belongs to you.
Commandment Nine (verse 9): "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour".
You should not lie. That is clear; you should not deceive other people.
Commandment Ten (verse 10): "You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass".
In other words, we should not covet other people’s status, their goods, what they have. We should not long for their goods, but we should long for their good. And if we would all get our attitude right, we open the door for God’s blessing and He will increase and bless us. Don’t covet people’s property, their relationships with other people, their status, and their assets.
The Commandments are tough. They are not just external, they are in the heart.
We examined the Ten Commandments so as to highlight the massive pile of sin that is forgiven us. And in fact God continues to forgive us every day. None of us have obeyed all the Ten Commandments or we would not have needed Jesus to die for us. Thank God that He did. But we have been forgiven a great pile of sin and so therefore we are like that servant who owes twenty million pounds. We owe an enormous debt to the King because of the way we have lived. We have accumulated a large sin debt. What did the servant do? He begged for mercy. He fell before the king, saying, ‘King please have some patience with me. Just give me some more time; I will pay off the debt.’ This is like a lot of people; they try to make a bargain with God. This is futile. This man could never, if he had a thousand years, pay that debt off. And we could never pay that debt off. By all your goodness, all your churchgoing or whatever you do, you can never pay off the debt that you owe to God. But the king is wonderful and gracious and He is full of compassion, for the Bible says (verse 27): “The Lord of the servant was moved with compassion and loosed him and forgave him of the debt.”
And why did God forgive us? Because God is love, God is compassionate. He loves us and so He had compassion on us and thus, forgave us our debt, which He knew of ourselves, we could never pay it off. It could only be paid off by sending Jesus. It cost the man in the parable twenty million pounds to forgive that person. Do you realise it cost God an awful lot to forgive us. He had to give up His only son. The most precious thing that He had, He had to give up His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for our forgiveness. It is expensive, it costs to forgive. It is no little thing when you extend forgiveness to someone else. It does cost. But Jesus paid the big cost for us. Praise God. Indeed, it is an ‘Amazing Grace’ that saved wretched man.
But this being a fallen race, it is no guarantee that the forgiven party will appreciate the costly gift of forgiveness. As we can see in the parable, the forgiven man was not touched by the forgiveness he received. He did not show love to others and neither was he tender-hearted towards others. Rather, he denied another person mercy, the very thing he begged his master to give him. He handed the man over the prison to be tortured. This is the way we are when we are hurt, isn’t it? We want to punish them, we want to torture them. Perhaps we do it by exploding in anger, or perhaps we do it by withholding our affection from them. Perhaps we give them the silent treatment. This is our punishment, we are letting them suffer a bit for what they have done against us. We devise exquisite torture for them in our mind. We imagine all kinds of terrible things that might happen to them. There are different ways we can punish people. We can slash them with words, we can withhold our respect, we can give them the cold treatment, we can do all kinds of things. Perhaps we think we will be played for a sucker if we forgive them. But we are actually destroying ourselves; we are not hurting them as much as we are hurting ourselves, this is the message of the parable. When we try to punish others, we put ourselves in prison. That is how the parable goes on. We are destroying our peace and our joy. God has cast our sins into the deepest sea but we love to keep hold of our grudges. Don’t try to punish people. Leave that to God, “Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” What this man (in the parable) was owed was so small compared to what he had been forgiven. And yet he could not forgive that person. This goes to show how small minded people can be. This is strong teaching that Jesus is giving. How very soon he forgot. But of course the Parable is like a mirror and it is shining back on us. It helps to re-examine one’s heart.
So forgiveness is a great thing. We should forgive one another from the heart.
There is a big principle in the Bible, which shows that the way one deals with others is the way they will be dealt with. If one is always criticising other people, they will find that they are themselves criticised by everyone. Whatever you put out is going to come back on you. Whatever you sow you will reap. If you sow love and forgiveness to people who don’t deserve it you will find love and forgiveness coming back to you. If you have no mercy you will find you will receive no mercy and that is a tough thing. You cannot avoid that spiritual law, the way you measure it out to others, if you judge others (that is if you punish others) you will find the same thing happening to you. This is what happened in the parable. The king said, ‘You put him in jail, you are now being put in jail. And you will be tortured until you pay it off.’ And then Jesus says, ‘And that is the way God will deal with you if you don’t forgive one another from the heart.’
If we do not forgive one another, what happens, it seems, is we get out of God’s blessing. The weight of the sins that were forgiven us, start coming back. We find ourselves in an emotional and mental prison. We find feel tormented which then leads us to ask, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ It is because we have tried to punish someone else and it is coming back on you. Unforgiveness attracts disaster and sickness into your life. You become a sitting target to the devil. Your prayers are not answered because Jesus said in Mark 11:25, (paraphrase) when you pray you can receive from God but you had better forgive those who have sinned against you if you want your Father in heaven to forgive you. Somehow God’s forgiveness is blocked in your life and your sins weigh down heavily on you if you do not forgive. If you forgive, the channel is open and God’s blessing can flow. If you have sinned against someone, go to them humbly. Don’t be presumptuous and think ‘Oh they are a Christian, they have got to forgive me’ and be hard about it. If you have hurt someone you need to put it right, go to them and just say humbly, ‘I am so sorry, I did this and that. Please forgive me’. You also need to be specific about what you did wrong. You need to tell God or that person specifically.
Make a decision to forgive people immediately and totally because it is in your own interest. If we want to keep God’s blessing and joy in our lives and have peace, we have got to forgive. We should not try and measure out forgiveness. The presence of God in our lives is too important to lose it by holding onto a grudge. The character and the personality that is developing on the inside of you is important. The most important thing is that our souls develop to be more like Jesus every day.
One thing to watch out for is a root of bitterness. If somebody else is in a bitter frame of mind, they are angry, they are bitter, they are out to punish, be careful because Hebrews says, that root of bitterness, can defile many. If you are around somebody who is very bitter, that can get on you very easily. You can pick up someone else’s offence. I know this as a Pastor, especially with a marriage situation, or two people in dispute. Listening to someone complaining about someone else, can lead one to pick up that bitterness and that offence. Very often we do not necessarily have the grace to deal with it. Our hearts need to be carefully protected. Ephesians 4:32 says “And be kind one to another, tender hearted…” Realising that every person is very precious to the Lord. They might have been a pain to you, but they are very precious to the Lord. Do not take it out on them. He says, “…be tender hearted…” and “forgiving one another…” why? “even as God has forgiven you.”God has forgiven us totally, without reserve. He has forgiven a mountain of sin. And in the same way we need to forgive each other.
Closing prayer for letting go of unforgiveness in your heart.
Lord thank You so much for what you have done for us. You have given us so much. Lord we have probably broken all the Commandments and a lot more, but Lord You have forgiven us, You have wiped the slate clean. Thank you Lord. You have forgiven us so much, and Lord that makes us tender hearted. That makes us to want to forgive everyone else. Lord we realise that people have sinned against us, they have hurt us. We look that in the face and we say, ‘I forgive you’ (if there is someone you are thinking of you can perhaps say that out loud or quietly – ‘I forgive you’). Lord, I ask you to bless that person in the name of Jesus.’ Amen