Three powerful words
Share an experience from your childhood when you broke the rules. What happened? What were the consequences?
There is something in our human nature that cries out for ugly things that are beyond justice; things like retribution, revenge, vengeance.
“Of all sin, resentment appears to be the most fun.” – Fredrick Buechner
The keyword there is “appears.” Though it may appear to be fun, in reality it is a trick. In 2 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 10 and 11 talk about that sort of attitude being a scheme of Satan, the enemy of our souls.
When we choose to hang on and “make them pay,” we are only hurting ourselves. There is a saying that resentment eats away at us from the inside. It says that not forgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Why is forgiveness so hard? What are some things that have prevented or delayed you from forgiving someone in the past?
Have you ever received unexpected forgiveness? How did that make you feel?
Have someone read Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:31-33, and Psalm 103:12.
What do these passages tell us about God and what forgiveness does for our hearts and souls?
Aren’t you glad that God wasn’t fair with us? He doesn’t give us what we deserve, but instead, He forgives. If we are going to experience real freedom, we must learn to forgive one another just as God through Christ has forgiven us.
We need to understand what forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness is not forgetting
Forgiveness is not excusing
Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling
Forgiveness does not eliminate consequences
What forgiveness looks like is taking our real hurt to a loving God and making a courageous decision to let go of our resentment.
We have a God who is for us and loves us. He sees all that we’ve done, and He loves us anyway. He sees all that’s been done to us, and it grieves Him.
Have someone read Romans 12:17-20.
Your battle to fight is the one within you. The struggle is with our hearts and our choices.
Have someone read Luke 23:34.
You can decide to not wait for the person who has hurt you to ask for your forgiveness. Jesus modeled this from the cross as He was being beaten and crucified unjustly.
How has the message of Jesus changed the way you view forgiveness?
We can make the courageous choice to take our hurt to a loving God and forgive those who have hurt us.
Who do you need to forgive? Spend time this week praying for God to change your heart as you make the choice to forgive those who have hurt you. Pray for those people.
Break into groups of 2-3 and spend time praying for a heart ready to release that specific hurt, that specific person, that memory or that moment to God.
Thank God for what He has done in your life, for wiping your slate clean and offering you grace.