Forgiving & Absorbing
by Gerald Griffin
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
Receiving and granting forgiveness are some of the central actions of every disciple of Jesus. Forgiveness is not just releasing the personal right to payback the one who has hurt me, it is also absorbing the pain with God’s help. But it doesn’t stop there – God wants to take the wounds and pain of our lives and turn them for good.
In this Practice we will continue to work through the forgiveness process while also thinking about what it would look like to transform our pain for good.
Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have somebody read Matthew 18v21-35
Talk about the following questions:
- What does Jesus mean by saying we need to forgive an offender 77 times?
- What do you think it looks like to forgive from your heart (18v35)?
- When have you seen someone truly move beyond forgiveness to blessing another?
Do this Practice as a Community right now: (10-30 minutes)
We want to spend time talking together about ideas for transforming our hurts for others’ good. Either stay together as a larger group or break up into triads (3-4 people), designating a leader within each group. Put away your phones or any other distractions and get comfortable.
Ask: What would it look like to transform a wound from your past into a blessing for others? Take a minute or two of silence and ask God to bring to mind a past hurt that he wants to transform for the good of others. If you can’t think of one now, that’s fine. This is a process that may take time. Let a few people share ideas that come to mind. Often we want to help others the way we wish we would have been helped in the past. What would that look like for you?
After each person shares, spend time praying for them and their next steps.
Read over this coming week’s Practice before you call it a night: (10 min)
Note: Just read and talk through this individual exercise before you call it a night.
For the Practice this week you may want to space this out over several days and try journaling each day to keep track of your thoughts and what you are hearing from God. In this practice you will take time to reflect on moments of hurt in your life and respond to Jesus’ invitation to forgive. Then you can take some time to dream about how your past hurt could be transformed for someone’s good. It is likely that this exercise will be difficult – which makes sense. We encourage you to make the space you need to lean into Jesus’ invitation of forgiveness and press into these situations and memories that are raw and vulnerable. We press in because we believe that the God is gentle and kind. He meets us in the ache and helps us walk towards forgiveness and, ultimately, into the freedom that forgiveness brings. Follow the steps below this week, remembering that forgiveness is a process.
- Reflect on Forgiveness: Take some time alone with a journal and ask God to bring to mind a time someone absorbed your offense and forgave you. Try to identify three instances and write briefly about each. Think about how you felt when you knew you had done wrong and hurt them. Recall the guilt, embarrassment, or shame you felt. How did you feel about the potential consequences? How did you try to justify your actions? Journal about what happened.
- Remember Being Forgiven: Now try to remember the feelings and thoughts you had when you were forgiven. What was that like? Write about that experience. Consider what it would have felt like if the person you hurt made you feel guilty. What if they had tried to shame you or manipulate you?
- Give Gratitude: Take a few minutes with Jesus to give thanks for the person who granted you forgiveness when you needed it. You may want to set a reminder to reach out to the person who forgave you and thank them.
- Imagine Forgiving: Now ask the Spirit to bring to mind a time you were hurt by someone. Think about it for a moment, recall the hurt. Try to avoid seeing yourself as a victim or an avenger. Then remember again the time you were forgiven by another. Bring to mind the person who has hurt you and consider absorbing their offense just as another absorbed yours. Imagine forgiving your offender the way you were also forgiven.
- Grant Forgiveness: If you are ready, you can pray this prayer of forgiveness for someone who has hurt you: “In the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, I commit to release the personal right to payback for their offense. I give the gift of forgiveness to _______. I choose to love this person who harmed me and to bless, not curse, them. [You may want to now visualize the cross of Jesus and giving that person to Jesus. Imagine Jesus cutting away their sin from you and canceling all the effects of it.] Now I ask you, Spirit, to fill me anew with all that you have for me.” (Wait in this posture and receive whatever God has for you. Ask for more of his love, joy, peace, kindness, power, or holiness).
- Dream About Blessing Others. Take some time now to ask God what it would look like to do good for others out of a past wound. If you were hurt as a child or teenager, how could you work to protect or mentor young people? What do you wish someone had done for you that you can now do for others? Write ideas down, plan next steps, and share them with a trusted friend or your Community. End by giving Jesus thanks for his power to redeem all things – he is truly making all things new.
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?
Close in prayer (10 minutes)