Thesis:The relationship of love to forgiveness is crucial.
Introduction:Last week we considered Jesus' "parable" of the "forgiven". The critical issue in the parable was the answer to the question: who "loves" more? The answer -- he that experienced greater grace -- was "correct".
This morning I am going to press that issue so that we may understand it with more clarity. The question that we are going to consider is this one: who is the "greater debtor"?
I. There Are Always "Complications".
A. In the "parable", there are no "responsible debtors".
1. Given our current economic situation in 21st Century America, we tend to think more highly of "responsible debtors": the ones who pay their bills on time.
2. Given the biblical insistence upon integrity at any cost, we exalt those who keep their word and despise those who default on it.
3. These attitudes are absolutely necessary for progress in a relational universe.
a. It is fundamentally impossible for good to come out of irresponsible behavior: the wages of sin is Death, not Life.
1) Even when Romans 8:28 is brought into the mix, the impossibility stands.
a) This verse does not say that evil produces good [Note carefully Romans 3:5-8].
b) This verse simply declares that the responsiblebehaviorofGod is capable of overwhelming evil so that good comes.
c) But everywhere the Bible illustrates God's overwhelming of evil so that good comes there is a presentation of the insertion of pure goodness into an evil mix so that the evil is made vain inrespecttoitsintent (i.e., the actions are allowed to stand, but their intentions are totally frustrated).
2) Even in our current text wherein Jesus seems to claim that greater love arises out of those whose sins were greater, the impossibility stands.
a) Jesus is not teaching that one must plunge into deep moral depravity in order to fully appreciate the grace of God.
b) Jesus is teaching that everyone has been plunged into deep moral depravity but there are those who refuse to admit it.
i. In the final analysis, who is the "greater sinner" in this text?
ii. Is promiscuous sexual immorality a "greater sin" than treating Jesus as a gluttonous drunk whose "Truth" needs to be upstaged?
iii. In the final analysis, the problem is the absence of love in the presence of deep moral depravity (an absence that sometimes runs in the direction of promiscuity and other times runs in the direction of oxymoronic "proud obedience").
iv. This means that Jesus was not saying that greater love arises out of those whose sins were greater but out of those whose recognition of their sinfulness is greater.
b. Therefore the real issue is that there is no such thing as "responsible behavior" unless God is in the mix.
4. Thus we have the "complication" of "necessity" without "capacity": there are no "responsible debtors".
B. In the "parable", the missing ingredient (love-driven responsibility) is revealed to arise out of "faith" in the willingness of the Great Creditor to effectively address the problems.
1. The lesser problem is the acquisitiveness of the debtors.
a. Debt is always caused by the idolatrous assumptions of consumption (my "Life" will be better if I have ...).
b. Overwhelming debt is simply idolatry run amuck.
2. The greater problem is the lovelessness of the debtor toward the creditor (the creditor is viewed as a tool to be used, not a person to be loved).
a. This view is permitted by the interpositioning of supposedly impersonal institutions between the debtor and the Creditor so that "no one is hurt by my default".
b. At any time that credit is viewed as the power of the economic engine, disaster is inevitable and enormous.
3. The solution is given as a twin-pronged reality.
a. On the one hand, the indebtedness is erased by the Creditor as He absorbs the impact into himself in order to alleviate the debt.
b. On the other hand, the debtor is moved to love so that further indebtedness is disallowed (no one who loves Jesus deliberately incurs further indebtedness to Him in the form of idolatrous consumption).
1) Our text reveals that this "love" arises out of "faith" in the goodness of the Creditor.
2) Our text reveals that this "faith unto love" saves. (which means, it erases our past and infuses our future with a completely different perspective on the means to Life).