Forgiveness is so powerful it can positively change the lives of people who get it…and those who give it.
The Discussion Starter:
CBS Evening News routinely offers a segment known as “On The Road with Steve Hartman.” The segments are usually “feel good” pieces from regular folks in Everytown, America. The one in this resource is no exception.
Steve tracked down a crooked cop who wrongly arrested a man in Michigan more than ten years ago. Obviously, it changed the arrested man’s life due to the fact that he was sentenced to jail. But the dirty cop was also arrested a little while later when it was discovered that he was falsifying reports.
Then, a decade later, after both men were released from jail, they bumped into each other in a small café in their hometown.
What followed came straight out of the Bible…and will be a powerful challenge to your students.
The video can be found at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wffHBQKq74
Pretty cool story, huh? I don’t know about you, but I would have wrestled a long time about what to do to that cop if I could ever get my hands on him. Yes, of course, I would want to forgive him because that’s the only right thing to do, but it would have been an inner battle, for sure. I’m glad Jameel chose to forgive Andrew; it changed both of their lives. But…that’s what forgiveness is supposed to do: change lives! In fact, forgiveness is so powerful it can positively impact the lives of people who get it…and those who give it. As we move through the remainder of our discussion, I challenge you to let God speak to your heart about the forgiveness that’s necessary in your life.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether or not you know any police offers personally.
- ASK SOMEONE: What did Officer Collins say was his motivating factor behind arresting Jameel that day? What does that say about the way the cop once viewed people?
- ASK A FEW: How would you have felt if you were wrongly accused like Jameel?
- ASK A FEW: In your opinion, what would be the worst crime to be falsely accused of? Why?
- ASK A FEW: In the first part of the interview, Jameel said all he wanted to do was get even with the dirty cop. What do you think made him change his mind and forgive Andrew?
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever needed forgiveness? If so, what was it like to get it? (Or, what was it like to NOT get it?)
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever needed to give forgiveness to someone? If so, what was it like to offer that to the person? (Or, what was it like to AVOID giving forgiveness?)
Read the following passage:
ASK A FEW: How does the apostle Paul say we should forgive others in verse 32? What does that even mean?
ASK A FEW: How is kindness and compassion linked to forgiveness?
ASK A FEW: Paul says to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger [etc].” Is it possible to forgive others who’ve hurt us…and hold on to anger, rage, and bitterness? Why or why not?
ASK A FEW: How was Andrew’s life changed when Jameel forgave him? How was Jameel’s own life changed?
ASK A FEW: How often do you offer forgiveness to a person who’s hurt you…and do you think God is pleased by your actions?
ASK A FEW: To whom do you need to offer forgiveness right now? Is there anything stopping you?
ASK A FEW: What will it cost you to hold onto unforgiveness?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: How will your life change if you forgive the person who hurt you?
Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We’ve tackled a pretty tough subject during our time together. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy to any of us. When someone hurts us, our kneejerk reaction is to knee the jerk in the jaw! But, what we’ve seen tonight is powerful: forgiveness, no matter how tough it may be, can change the life of the person who receives is…and the person who gives it.
In the video, we were told that Jameel spent four long years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He was framed by a dirty cop who just wanted to improve his arrest record. How awful. And while Jameel originally wanted to get even with Officer Collins, instead, he offered the man forgiveness when they bumped into each other a decade later.
I hope that you caught how their lives were changed.
- They both were relieved.
- They became co-workers…and then friends.
- They even told one another they loved each other.
- They work together helping others learn how to forgive.
That’s compelling! That’s powerful! That’s forgiveness.
In the passage we read, Paul tells us to forgive others the way God forgave us through Jesus. Let me explain that briefly. God forgave us of our sins by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us. When Jesus died, He completely eradicated our sin, and to this day, offers us forgiveness with a perfect God. When we ask God to forgive us, He does just that because Jesus has died to forgive us of our sins. He doesn’t hold anything against us. He loves us.
That’s the way we should forgive others: completely…and to the degree that we can love one another.
I know that’s tough, but you don’t have to face that alone. We are willing to pray with you about this. We are willing to show you even more Bible passages about forgiveness. We will even help you get or give forgiveness if you want!
We don’t want you to have to live without forgiveness. If you need to forgive someone, we’re here for you. If you need to get forgiveness, we’re here for that, as well.
Here’s why: we know how powerful forgiveness can be in a life. All of us have had our lives changed by the power of forgiveness. We want yours changed as well!
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith