“Forgiveness has proved beneficial to a range of relationships, whether it’s a family, romantic, or professional relationship.”
-Everett L. Worthington, Jr.
What to Consider:
- Can you think of a time when you had to forgive somebody close to you? What about a time when you had to forgive somebody who was not close to you (a stranger, somebody no longer in your life, etc.)? What were the similarities? What were the differences?
- Is there a person in your life whom you have not forgiven? What are the reasons you have not forgiven this person? How has this decision affected you?
- Can you think of a time when somebody forgave you? How did it make you feel? What were the long-term and short-term consequences?
- What is the relationship between justice and forgiveness? Are they mutually exclusive? Complementary? Does one trump the other?
How to Go Deeper:
- Examine the line on forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) in light of Jesus’ words on forgiveness that follow (Matthew 6:14-15). Make connections between this article on forgiveness and Jesus’ words on the necessity of forgiving others if we are to receive forgiveness. Set aside time for reflection and invite congregants to consider people in their lives whom they might need to offer forgiveness.
- Read the account of the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:20-35 and emphasize the participation of the betrayer, Judas, and the other eleven disciples who all fled in fear shortly after dinner. Elaborate on the story, imagining how Jesus might have felt sharing the bread and the cup with his disciples under these circumstances. Connect this to the forgiveness article and consider how Jesus might have chosen to share this important meal with those who betrayed and abandoned him in his time of need.
- Read Psalm 51 as a congregation. Discuss the forgiveness article with the congregation, emphasizing the role that penitence of the offender sometimes plays in offended parties offering forgiveness. Invite the congregation to contemplate those from whom they might need to ask forgiveness.
- Briefly tell the story of Joseph, focusing on the end of the narrative when Joseph forgives his brothers (Genesis 45:1-15). Invite congregants to enter into the story of Joseph and ponder how they would have felt and reacted if they were in his shoes. Share this article on forgiveness and the healthy emotional and physical benefits associated with forgiving others. Invite congregants to follow Joseph’s example and offer forgiveness to those who have offended them. For those who struggle with forgiveness, share insights from this article on forgiving when it seems impossible or this article on the nine steps to forgiveness.