Have each person identify a story (real or fiction) in which forgiveness is the central theme.
“To forgive is to set a person free… and discover the prisoner was you.” –Lewis B. Smedes
What did you find the most surprising or challenging to your concept of forgiveness from this week’s message?
How did you do on Donnie’s pop-quiz?
- A person should not be forgiven until he/she asks for it. T/F
- Forgiving includes minimizing the offense and the pain caused. T/F
- Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship. T/F
- You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense. T/F
- When you forgive it removes the consequences of their actions. T/F
In your experience, has withholding forgiveness ever been healthy in the long run? (Remember that “forgiveness” does not mean “forgetting the wrong done to me” or that there are “no consequences”)
Why is withholding forgiveness so natural, so easy to do?
What does the Bible say?
Read Luke 15:11-32
Who is the offended party (or parties) in this story? What was the offense?
Does forgiveness in this story mean there are no consequences?
What would un-forgiveness look like in this story?
Why is this story in the Bible? What is Jesus trying to teach his audience?
Read Genesis 50:15-26
The Book of Genesis summarizes the beginning (or “genesis”) of God’s plan to fix everything broken with the world. Interestingly this first book ends with great hope based on God using one man’s forgiveness. What was the evil that Joseph needed to forgive his brothers of? (if no one in the group is familiar with the story, read Genesis 37:12-36, Genesis 42:1-11, & Genesis 45:1-46:7.
How does Joseph’s faith in God give him the ability to forgive his brothers?
Why is a perspective like Joseph’s important to understand and remember in our relationships with others?
Living obediently is one of the five characteristics of someone who is growing in their relationship with Jesus. We live obediently by knowing Jesus and His word and remaining in Him.
Jesus said in John 15:13 that:
No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.
Not only did Jesus define the extreme spectrum of brotherly/sisterly love in words, but he also modeled it for us. God loved us so much that he allowed his son to die on our behalf (John 3:16). With that definition and model, most of us probably fall into at least one of three categories:
- Some of us know who we need to forgive but have chosen not to forgive them yet.
- Some of us have not considered that perhaps we are holding back forgiveness, but someone close to us has done something against us, someone we claim to love, yet we have not moved towards them in forgiveness.
- Some of us still have not accepted God’s forgiveness of us and are unable to forgive others to the degree that they need to be forgiven. (John 3:16-21)
Pick one of these three categories that most applies to you and ask discuss with one person how faith in God can enable you to live obediently in the area of forgiveness.