Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for August 21

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for August 21

Forgive Your Neighbor

Matthew 18:21–35

Someone once said the three most difficult things to say are, “I am sorry,” “I forgive you” and “Worcestershire sauce.” While the last one listed is a tongue twister, the first two are heart tests. Those who say forgiveness is always easy have not needed to do it very often. Giving forgiveness requires us to demonstrate grace, and seeking forgiveness involves humility and acknowledging our mistakes. I can remember having to take lab classes in high school and college to satisfy certain science requirements. Most of the time, I found the lab assignments more interesting than the lecture part of the class. Forgiveness is one of those things we cannot only do in the laboratory of our worship services and Bible studies. When it comes time to apply the practice of forgiving, we find it more challenging. Forgiveness is not only a good idea for the Christian, but it is also an imperative.

Love forgives — and keeps forgiving. (21–22)

In our text, Peter asked the question we have all wanted to ask. He was the spokesperson of the group. He was zealous, opinionated and never bashful. When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive someone, he was sincere, but there was also a hint of him seeking to justify a guarded and measured forgiveness. When Jesus revealed to Peter there is no numerical limit or tally to keep, He was telling Peter forgiveness should flow freely from the life of the believer. When you or I forgive, we are not dismissing the offense or minimizing the pain it may have caused; we are releasing the burden of carrying it around with us. The perpetuity of forgiving requires us to have a healthy relationship with Christ. It is the only way we can genuinely forgive others.

God extends forgiveness to us. (23–27)

As well-intentioned or as good as we think we may be, it is not in our makeup to quickly forgive the deep and painful hurt inflicted by others. Most people have at least one physical scar on their bodies. I have some scars on my left knee that are evidence of a surgery from playing football. Others are behind both of my ears from surgeries as a child, and there are even a few on my fingertips from going through a glass door while roughhousing in college. Scars tell stories and indicate you survived. The person who hurt you may remain and choose not to change his or her behavior or show remorse. When that happens, a scar may surface. In that moment, I pray we can recall the scars of Christ, remember His great love for us and then allow His strength in us to forgive. We have received too much from God to neglect sharing with those who need it most.

God expects us to forgive even as He has forgiven us. (28–35)

Our attitudes and obedience are a choice. What influences your choices? Your feelings, preferences and opinions should be secondary to the power of God. If your feelings alone are your motivation, your choices will constantly be out of control and fleeting. Our greatest motivating factor is Christ and the example He gives. As the Roman soldiers were crucifying Jesus, He proclaimed, “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34). That is our guide. This type of forgiveness can only be shared after it has been supernaturally given. Have you received this amazing forgiveness? If so, you know it is life-changing. Let us choose to practice forgiveness. Someone you know needs it and that someone might be you.

By Bobby McKay
Pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Mississippi

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