1. WE MUST BE LONG-SUFFERING
a. What lesson was Jesus trying to teach Peter regarding his view of forgiveness? Matthew 18:21, 22.
“The rabbis limited the exercise of forgiveness to three offenses. Peter, carrying out, as he supposed, the teaching of Christ, thought to extend it to seven, the number signifying perfection. But Christ taught that we are never to become weary of forgiving.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 243.
b. How should we treat those who injure us? Why? Luke 17:3; Galatians 6:1.
“Too often when wrongs are committed again and again, and the wrongdoer confesses his fault, the injured one becomes weary, and thinks he has forgiven quite enough. . . .
“If your brethren err, you are to forgive them. . . .You should not say. . . I do not think they feel their confession. What right have you to judge them, as if you could read the heart?. . . And not only seven times, but seventy times seven—just as often as God forgives you.”—Ibid., pp. 249, 250.
2. A GREAT DEBT FORGIVEN
a. In the parable of the debtors, what fate was about to befall a servant who owed a great debt to his king? Matthew 18:23–25.
b. How did the king respond to the servant’s plea for mercy? Matthew 18:26, 27.
“The pardon granted by this king represents a divine forgiveness of all sin. Christ is represented by the king, who, moved with compassion, forgave the debt of his servant. Man was under the condemnation of the broken law. He could not save himself, and for this reason Christ came to this world, clothed His divinity with humanity, and gave His life, the just for the unjust. He gave Himself for our sins, and to every soul He freely offers the blood-bought pardon. ‘With the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption’ (Psalm 130:7).”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 244, 245.
c. As we have received abundant forgiveness from Christ for our own sins, what obligation does this pardon place us under? 1 John 4:11; Matthew 10:8.
“There are no sins [God] will not forgive in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the sinner’s only hope, and if he rests here in sincere faith, he is sure of pardon and that full and free. There is only one channel and that is accessible to all, and through that channel a rich and abundant forgiveness awaits the penitent, contrite soul and the darkest sins are forgiven.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 102.
“We ourselves owe everything to God’s free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others.”— Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 250.
“Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit. He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God’s pardoning grace. In God’s forgiveness the heart of the erring one is drawn close to the great heart of Infinite Love. The tide of divine compassion flows into the sinner’s soul, and from him to the souls of others. The tenderness and mercy that Christ has revealed in His own precious life will be seen in those who become sharers of His grace.”—Ibid., p. 251.
3. CHERISHING AN UNFORGIVING SPIRIT
a. How did the servant who had been forgiven a very large debt treat one of his fellow servants who owed him but a small sum? Matthew 18:28–30.
“In the parable, when the debtor pleaded for delay, with the promise, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all,’ the sentence was revoked. The whole debt was canceled. And he was soon given an opportunity to follow the example of the master who had forgiven him. Going out, he met a fellow servant who owed him a small sum. He had been forgiven ten thousand talents; the debtor owed him a hundred pence. But he who had been so mercifully treated, dealt with his fellow laborer in an altogether different manner. His debtor made an appeal similar to that which he himself had made to the king, but without a similar result. He who had so recently been forgiven was not tenderhearted and pitiful. The mercy shown him he did not exercise in dealing with his fellowservant.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 245.
b. What did the king do when he heard about this merciless action? Matthew 18:31–34. What lesson does this parable teach us?
“He who refuses to forgive is thereby casting away his own hope of pardon.”—Ibid., p. 247.
c. What pattern of forgiveness did Jesus leave us in His own life? 1 Peter 2:23; Luke 23:34. How do we often fail in this regard?
“We shall need to have the love of Christ, that we may not cherish an unforgiving spirit. Let us not think that unless those who have injured us confess their wrongs, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. We should not accumulate our grievances, holding them to our hearts until the one we think guilty has humbled his heart by repentance and confession. . . . However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries, but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God, so must we pardon those who have done evil to us.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 144.
4. THE CONDITION OF RECEIVING FORGIVENESS
a. What principle of forgiveness does Jesus present in the prayer He taught His disciples? Matthew 6:12, 14, 15. How only can we truthfully pray this prayer?
“A great blessing is here asked upon conditions. We ourselves state these conditions. We ask that the mercy of God toward us may be measured by the mercy which we extend to others. Christ declares that this is the rule by which the Lord will deal with us: ‘If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matthew 6:14, 15). Wonderful terms! but how little are they understood or heeded. One of the most common sins, and one that is attended with most pernicious results, is the indulgence of an unforgiving spirit. How many will cherish animosity or revenge and then bow before God and ask to be forgiven as they forgive. Surely they can have no true sense of the import of this prayer or they would not dare take it upon their lips. We are dependent upon the pardoning mercy of God every day and every hour; how then can we cherish bitterness and malice toward our fellow sinners!”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 328.
b. What can we expect if we manifest an unforgiving spirit toward others, and why? Matthew 6:15; 18:34, 35.
“We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. Wherefore Christ says, ‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again’ (Matthew 7:2).”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 251.
c. How can we show others true forgiveness? Ephesians 4:32.
“Let the tenderness and mercy that Jesus has revealed in His own precious life be an example to us of the manner in which we should treat our fellow beings.”—My Life Today, p. 235.
5. LOVE INSPIRES FORGIVENESS
a. What exchange did Christ make in our behalf? 1 Peter 3:18.
“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5).”—The Desire of Ages, p. 25.
b. What does He ask us to give in return? John 13:34.
“Often have you needed the forgiveness of Jesus. You have been constantly dependent upon His compassion and love. Yet have you not failed to manifest toward others the spirit which Christ has exercised toward you? Have you felt a burden for the one whom you saw venturing into forbidden paths? Have you kindly admonished him? Have you wept for him and prayed with him and for him? Have you shown by words of tenderness and kindly acts that you love him and desire to save him?”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 610.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What should be our attitude when our brother or sister injures us several times and then say they are sorry? Why?
2. What must we learn to bear with in others? If we fail to bear with our brothers and sisters, what does this say about ourselves?
3. If those who have injured us do not confess what they have done, what should we do? Why?
4. What do we lack when we fail to forgive others?
5. How can we show the compassion and forgiveness of Christ toward those who have gone astray?