Dispensing Grace

You can't give out grace until you let it sink into your heart first.


Good morning .  David Sorn. Pastor of Renovation Church.  
Thanks again to Bjork, Matt, and Tim for helping w/ worship today
As he was two weeks ago, Zach is again leading worship for hundreds and hundreds of high school students at camp this weekend
We realize that Zach has unbelievable talents as a worship leader, and that we are quite lucky to have him as a church plant, so we want to honor his talents, and let him use those to bless the broader church as well.  
However, I can tell you that winter camp season is over after today, so he’ll back consistently after this Sunday
We are finishing our “Radical Grace” series today
And I want to get right into it by focusing on another story that Jesus told
By the way, I love the Bible.  I love today’s story again.
Jesus is so good at making concepts understandable because of his use of story and illustrations from everyday use.  
We sometimes tend to think that Biblical teaching needs to be SO complex and complicated, yet Jesus reached into hearts in such a simple way
Let’s read another one of his stories, or more aptly termed, a parable

(Matthew 18:21-22) - NIV
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"   22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
In much of Jewish tradition, they were often told to forgive 3 times (sometimes even less)
Peter courageously even offers to forgive 7 times
But Jesus says 77 times!
Meaning never stop forgiving.  
You’re not going to count to 77.
And the # 7 in the Bible, carries this idea of “completeness”
So Jesus sets the stage for this upcoming parable by foreshadowing that it’s going to be about us dispensing grace (undeserved favor)/forgiveness to other people
Ok, let’s keep reading:
(Matthew 18:23-24) - NIV
23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
We’ve been reading a lot of Jesus’ parables lately, and he often references the coin a denarius (a days wages).  A “talent” (a form of money), is roughly worth six thousand denarii.
It’s the most expensive denomination of money they had
A talent then is then worth six-thousand “days-wages” for a common man.  A lot of money!
But JC says this man owes 10,000 TALENTS!
Roughly equated to an average MN, here’s how the story would read:
“As he began the settlement, a man who owed him 9 billion, 600 million dollars was brought to him.”
WHAT???  Kind of brings on a whole new meaning to the story huh?
It’s obvious at this point that JC is using hyperbole.  He’s exaggerating to make a point.
10,000 for them was the highest number they used in math (like for us it was a million for along time)
So, when Jesus says 10,000 talents, he’s basically saying, “This man owed this guy as much money as you could possibly fathom.”  He’s exaggerating to make a point and contrast with what’s going to happen later.
Let’s keep reading
(Matthew 18:25-27) – NIV
25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
If you couldn’t pay things in the ancient world, it was very different.  You didn’t just continue amassing debt on your credit card.
They might be in debt to someone and loan things, but eventually if you couldn’t pay up, it wasn’t that uncommon for a whole family to be sold into slavery because they couldn’t pay up
However, the servant claims that he will pay everything back (lol), but that would be impossible.  
And as he’s claiming he’ll pay things back, the master has pity on him
In fact, he has grace.  The servant didn’t even ask for the debt to be cancelled, but the master did it anyway.  That’s Grace. “Undeserved Favor.”
However, the story takes a twist
(Matthew 18:28-35) – NIV
28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.     29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' 30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.    32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

And the parable ends on a fiery intense note.  But the point of the parable is that God has given us SOOO much grace, and if we really understood that…really let that hit home, and truly accepted that, we would be able to give grace to others as well
This parable really hit home to me in a different way as I was studying this week
I had never actually done the research on the money before, I had just read 10,000 talents…100 denarii
But when you read it as almost 10 billion dollars vs. $16,000, it takes on a new meaning
Because we, as followers of Christ are the ones that owed God a debt of 10 billion for our life of sin, and yet he sent his son to die on the cross for us…
And when people wrong us, God is saying, listen, look at how much I forgave you.  HOW MUCH! Think about that.
Think about the grace he offered us…eternity in heaven that he offers us…It’s a lot of grace
I want to speak real briefly to that last two verses we read.  The one where the servant is thrown in prison and seems to be there for pretty much forever (especially if he owned 10 billion)
Because this has important theological implications for what we will say the rest of today
Jesus is NOT saying that you can truly accept God’s grace in your heart and believe that Jesus died for you and become a Christian and then somehow not be good enough and then be punished in hell anyway
He’s not.  What He’s referring to, is to people who take his gift of grace in vain and only try and accept it as personal gain.  
He’s referring to when it’s only a superficial acceptance that doesn’t really result in salvation and certainly not a transformation into a grace giving person.  
Because if you really accepted that gift of salvation…it would begin changing you
Let me give you an example
Example of Dusty’s friend Rob.  (get out of jail free card)
That’s what that verse is referring to.  It’s not about being a “good enough Christian”
It’s about if God is offering forgiveness…will you truly accept his grace?
That is…to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, and to repent, to change, and to live for Him?
And not to be in a situation (as Jesus says earlier in Matthew) where his seed of grace just hits the soil of your heart but quickly withers away because you never really meant it in the first place
Because if God’s grace is really real in your life.  You really accepted it, it will change you

Now, moving on from that.  
Not only will grace change you if you let it in, the degree in which you accept it is the degree in which it will change you
As we’ve said often though in this grace series, humans are often too prideful and independent to accept gifts from other people
Godfather’s example (neither would receive gift)
Grandma Rose example
It’s great to serve and give gifts to others.  It really is! Those are cool stories.
But there’s a weird flip side to that, and that is that we don’t tend to accept gifts from others very well either.  Just think of Christmas for example.  
What’s the most common phrase that one adult says to another after they open a gift??   “Oh, you shouldn’t have.”
5 year-old getting bike NEVER gonna say, “Oh you shouldn’t have”
Play Nintendo SIXTY FOUUUUURRRRR video
We don’t celebrate gifts like that
Now, obviously a lot of us are adults or you’re a teenager and honestly, it would be weird if you were jumping up and down because you got the latest season of your favorite TV show on DVD for Christmas
But it’s not just the outward thing…it’s about our hearts
And even in our hearts, we have a harder time really being thankful the generosity of others
Because when you’re a child you learn to be dependent on everyone
So someone helps you tie your shoes, or makes you a meal, or drives you to school, or helps you with your homework
And you just accept it that gift of grace and help from them
But with each year we get older, we get more independent.  And the more independent we get, the less we tend to accept “help” (grace) from others
As adults,  we tend to accept just enough grace.  “Okay, thanks for the deal!” “You shouldn’t have, but thanks”  “I’ll take it, I guess”
I struggle with this.  
I’ve been married for 5-6 years now, and I remember especially in the first year or two in marriage, Lindsey or my parents would try and help us out once in a while…
Oh here’s $100 to help with that…
And I would always respond negatively
And it’s still hard to accept those gifts of grace…  Because we don’t want help
We don’t really let the gift of grace sink down to our heart.  
And the scary thing is…that was what the servant’s problem was in the parable
The servant just takes selfish advantage of the master’s grace, but then refuses to dispense it out to anyone else.  
Ok, thanks for the deal!!  This is great!! WOW!!
But he never let the truth of grace affect him.  
So when it came time to giving it out, he had nothing to give
Let me illustrate what I mean
Do Styrofoam Peanuts Illustration  

The more and more you can realize that you were 10 billion dollars in debt to God, and he still said, “Forgiven.”  You will be so much more willing to dish it out to others.
Mercy experienced will produce mercy demonstrated…
You cannot give what you never accepted…You cannot give what you never let sink into your heart.
Story of man who was abused by stepfather, went to Vietnam, vowed to kill stepfather, became Christian, and four years later eventually forgave stepfather
He said to him, “Today is that day.”  ‘But, I’ve realized that I’m no better a person than you are, and God has forgiven me.  And if he can forgive a sinner like me, I can forgive you. I will not allow you to hurt my family again, so don’t’ think this is made out of weakness.  Rather I forgive you because I have been forgiven.”
And in that moment, he was not condoning what had happened, not saying it was okay.  He was merely beginning the process of letting go. Of showing grace. Of letting go of the death-grip that is revenge and unforgiveness
But you can’t really do that well until you realize you’ve been forgiven first
Yes, I realize that there are people who are naturally gifted to be more forgiving (even non-Christians), but this principle of the more you understand how much grace God gave you, the more you will be able to give it out…is SO true.  
It will improve your ability to give grace and forgiveness to other people, NO matter where you started from!

Because if you read Jesus’ teaching, you read how he constantly talks about this “upside-down” way of living in the “Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven” (which is a way of saying…to live like He lives)
And when he talks about it.  He talks about change from the inside out.  
If you let him change you on the inside (renovate your heart), you will begin to be able to dispense good things from the factory of your heart
If you let grace sink in, you will be able to have more grace pour out.  
Because, when you start to live in Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom of God lifestyle, you start to live a life focused on a relationship with Him….you start…
Letting go of always having to be perfect…because only He is perfect
Letting go of always holding a grudge…because he didn’t hold on a grudge
Letting go of not forgiving…because SOMEHOW, he found a way to forgive you for everything!
This has been rung so true in my life.  It used to be SOOO difficult for me to forgive other people before I knew Jesus.  So hard!
But you start walking with Jesus for a while…and start thinking about how much he forgives you EVERY DAY, and that messes with how you then turn and treat other people
As Jesus says elsewhere in Matthew, “Freely you have received, freely give!”

So, let me ask you the tough question then:  Where is it in your life that you’re not showing the grace and mercy to other people that God has showed to you?
Whether that’s at work?  Or with family? An old friend that’s not a friend anymore?  
I’m not saying forgiveness is easy.  It’s anything but.
But I am saying, those people that are hard to forgive.  Hard to forgive. You know what I’m talking about?
You can’t even begin to walk down that path towards forgiving them (towards letting go), until you deeply understand how God forgave you
Let’s close out this part of the service by just praying…
Except I’m not going to pray today.  I’m going to just give you some silent time to pray to God yourself.  
Talk to him.  About anything. But if you’re willing…
Ask him for a deeper understanding of his grace and forgiveness in your life.
Thank him for that
And then ask Him for the strength to help you forgive others around you as well.  
Let’s pray

You can look under your chair right now, and you should see a connection card and a pen.  Go ahead and pick those up.
One of the things we do every week at Renovation Church, is fill out these connection cards.
It’s a way for you to connect with us and for us to connect with you.  
Want to let you know that we have added yet another thing to our connection cards!
We are really raising the bar for prayer in this church in two significant ways
ONE, on back of card, now space for prayer requests
Our prayer team will pray for you during the week (which is awesome).  
This will be on the card every week, so feel free to pick it up early
And SECONDLY, we are also raising the bar of prayer by now offering you a time of prayer after the service.  
We really creating space for people to encounter God at this church, so now after every service, if you want someone to pray for you, a few members from our prayer team each week will be in the back
So if you’re interested, you can always receive prayer at the end of the service.  
This is an awesome thing.  SO EXCITED ABOUT THESE THINGS!

We are going to take an offering as well
A way for us to give back to a grace-giving God
If you’re a visitor, feel free to let the offering just pass you by
As the offering goes by, you can stick your connection card in there as well

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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