Forgiving & Being Forgiven
by Bethany Allen
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the teaching in triads (10 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender) and talk through the following debrief questions about the teaching:
- Did you listen to the teaching? What did you think?
- What was most challenging?
- What was most encouraging?
Transition back to one large group (5 minutes)
Ask a few questions about the last week’s Practice:
- Any stories from the last week’s Practice that you would like to encourage the whole group with?
- Any “aha” moments of breakthrough?
- Any highs or lows?
Read this overview
Forgiveness is integral in our discipleship to Jesus. We live in a world polluted by sin and shame, and relationships in this broken world are often marked by disappointment, loss, and pain. The call of God throughout the Scriptures is to release those who sin against us from our personal right to collect on the moral debt for their offense. We see this embodied best in the person of Jesus himself, who, in the face of sin, chose not to look the other way nor to pay the person back, but to deal with the sins committed against him in the most compelling way: by forgiving them.
Now, it’s important to note that forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It is not the same thing as reconciliation. It is not the same thing as allowing someone who has hurt you to be back in your life. It is not always a one time event; oftentimes it is something we have to keep choosing.
If we’re honest, forgiveness is one of the most countercultural Practices of Jesus. By definition, forgiveness is an unmerited gift – it is given to someone who does not deserve it. The cost of forgiveness is great, but the outcome in the lives of those who forgive is greater still. Through the process of forgiving and being forgiven we can experience freedom, wholeness, and intimacy with God and others, all of which is part of life as Jesus intended. For this week’s Practice, we want to reflect on the gift of God’s forgiveness and how it leads us to forgive others.
Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have somebody read Luke 7v36-50
Talk about the following questions:
- What parts of the Pharisee’s attitude do you relate to?
- What is so compelling about the way that Jesus interacts with this woman?
- How have you seen the correlation between forgiveness and love in your own life?
Do this Practice as a Community right now: (10-30 minutes)
Break up into triads (3-4 people) and designate a leader within that group. Put away your phones or any other distractions, and get comfortable.
We want to spend some time tonight reflecting on the ways in which God has forgiven us. As we press into that, we want transition into a space of asking to reveal if there is anyone in our lives who we need to forgive.
Part 1: Being Forgiven by God
• Have someone invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us and allow us to hear his voice as we engage in listening prayer.
• Ask the Holy Spirit:
• Is there anything in my life for which I need to repent? (Allow people time to sit with this question. If anyone feels led to confess something out loud, give them the space to do so.)
• Is there anything in my life of which I haven’t fully received God’s forgiveness? (As people feel comfortable, invite them to share with your triad.)
• Spend time praying over those who need to receive or know the forgiveness of God in their lives. They don’t need to go into detail or disclose any information, this is a space to invite the Spirit to heal and reveal the forgiveness that is their’s in Jesus.
Part 2: Who Do I Need to Forgive?
• Have someone invite the Holy Spirit to reveal specific offenses, people, or circumstances in which forgiveness needs to take place. (Give the Spirit time to speak and people time to listen.)
• It is important to record what you sense the Spirit speaking to you, so that you can take the time this week to process and pray through it. (Note: Tonight is not necessarily a space to forgive, but a time to begin a conversation with the Spirit about how we enter into our spiritual responsibility to forgive in light of the forgiveness we’ve received from him.)
Read over this coming week’s Practice before you call it a night: (10 minutes)
Note: Just read and talk through this individual exercise before you call it a night.
The Practice for this week is fairly simple. If you sense the Spirit reveal to you a person, offense, or circumstance in which he is inviting forgiveness, take time this week to explore that further. If you did not sense something from the Spirit tonight, set aside time this week to ask him again who you need to forgive. Again, forgiveness is a process, not an event. Give yourself grace as you work through the pain you’ve experienced, but make sure to be accountable to one another along the way.
Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes)
- Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice?
- Has your understanding of forgiveness changed this week? In what ways?
- What is your greatest fear when it comes to forgiveness?
Close in prayer (10 minutes)