This week, we have studied the importance of and the how-to’s of forgiveness for healthy, God-honoring relationships. When we consider the lavish gift of forgiveness that God first bestowed upon us, we are more willing to choose forgiveness toward others. By the grace of God, we have been forgiven of all our sins and declared “Not guilty,” although we did nothing to warrant such mercy. Now we are in a position to offer the same kindheartedness to others.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:8-9 NLT
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV
Because of his grace, he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Titus 3:7 NLT
Matthew 18:21-35 tells of a man who owed the king millions of dollars. He was arrested and sentenced to be sold as a slave, along with his wife and children, until he could pay the debt. As he begged the king for mercy, the kind had pity on him and forgave his debt.
As the man was released, he went straight to a fellow servant who owed him only a small percentage of what he had just been forgiven, and he grabbed the servant by the throat and threated him. The servant begged for mercy, but the creditor would not show mercy. He had the servant thrown into jail!
The other servants saw this and reported it back to the king. When the king heard of this man’s lack of mercy toward his fellow servant, he recanted his act of forgiveness and had the man thrown into prison to be tortured until the debt could be paid. Jesus said:
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:35 NLT
Natalie Chambers Snapp puts it this way, “Forgiveness is the number one stumbling block we face when it comes to relationships. Our pain is real, and Jesus cares about it all. Yet He calls us to forgive it all— every single offense, big and small— because that’s how He forgives us.
What a powerful illustration of what Christ has done for us, and in turn, what He has called us to do for others!
You may have thoughts such as:
“You don’t know what this person did to me. They don’t deserve forgiveness.”
- No, but we don’t deserve forgiveness either. Yet, God loved us so much that He gave His life so we could be forgiven. It’s called grace. Besides, forgiveness is more about freeing ourselves and choosing to live in peace than it is about letting the other person off the hook.
“You don’t know how badly this person hurt me. If I forgive, it will minimalize what they did.”
- True, you have been hurt. Forgiveness does not deny the hurt, nor does it mean that they are not accountable to God for their actions. What you are doing is to put it in God’s hands instead of seeking retribution yourself. God can take care of it much better than we ever could!
“I cannot allow this person back into my life after what they did.”
- Forgiveness does not mean that you are a door mat who has to allow the abuse to continue. It is OK to establish healthy boundaries, and it is possible to do so with a heart full of forgiveness.
“Every time I try to forgive, the hurt and anger keeps coming back. I just can’t get over this!”
- I have learned that actions usually must precede the emotion. We first make the choice to forgive out of obedience, and soon our feelings will follow suit. Until then, what I have learned that helps the most is to pray for the one who has hurt me, and to speak kind words to and about the person. This will catapult you into the fast track to healing!
“But I really just don’t like this person! I don’t want to forgive, and I surely don’t want to build any kind of relationship with this person!
- This is a tough one for sure, but we aren’t getting off the hook with this one! To love as Christ loves does not mean we have to be BFF’s with this person. When Jesus went to the Samaritan woman, hers was a race the Jews despised. Yet, Jesus looked beyond the external and saw into her soul. He loved her anyway; however, He didn’t invite her to hang out with his disciples or travel with him on his ministry journeys. It is OK to admit we don’t fit together well with someone, or that they belong in the outer ring of our hearts, but it is a choice to love with the unconditional love of God.
We love each other because he loved us first.
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. 1 John 4:19-21 NLT
This Scripture sums up the process of forgiveness so beautifully! Let these words sink in deeply.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,
says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:17-21 NLT
Here is a quick recap of the daily lessons:
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 NLT
We read the story of 1 Samuel 18 and 19 of how Saul grow more and more jealous and angry toward David. Because of David’s success, Saul’s pride was threatened, and that turned him against his trusted servant. He tried to kill him.
We learned how jealousy and pride are often at the root of our conflicts. This stirs up negative thoughts and emotions which distort our reasoning. If we aren’t watchful, Satan can use these emotions to rip apart our friendships. That is why it is so important to remain humble and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we can nip these situations in the bud.
The most important aspect of our study today was the contemplation of what Christ did for us. Because of our great salvation, we are empowered to forgive others. We searched our hearts to rid ourselves of any unforgiveness we are holding against anyone.
I love this quote from today’s lesson:
Having the humility of Jesus means we care about valuing and choosing relationship rather than being right or getting even.
Refusing to forgive results in an angry, bitter heart that is in constant turmoil. We become cranky, selfish, and resentful. It affects every area of our lives. We build up impenetrable walls around our hearts that cause us to distance ourselves from fulfilling relationships. We cannot possibly do or be all God planned for us when we are stuck in this bitter state.
The thing is, when we harbor unforgiveness, we are only hurting ourselves. I have heard it said many times that it is like drinking a cup of poison and expecting the other person to die. It is nonsense!
As Natalie says in the book:
Resentment, bitterness, and anger are like battery acid to the soul, eating us alive.
I don’t want any part of that!
One of my all-time favorite stories from the Bible illustrates one of the most beautiful examples of forgiveness I have ever read.
After all that we read about Saul yesterday, of how he had tried multiple times to kill David, and he chased David with a murderous hatred for four years! Saul’s bitterness and hatred consumed him until the day he died. However, instead of nursing, rehearsing, cursing, and dispersing, David chose a different route.
He mourned Saul’s death, and then he went out of his way to show kindness to Saul’s descendants. He found Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son who had been crippled as a child, and David restored all the land to him that had belonged to his grandfather. He also hired workers to farm the land for him, and he invited Mephibosheth to eat at the king’s table for the rest of his life.
Here is another example we learn from David. We see his writings throughout the book of Psalms during the time he was on the run from Saul. This shows us the benefit of crying out to God instead of crying out at the person who has harmed us.
Let us choose to cry out to God and release our heavy burden of unforgiveness so we can walk in the freedom Jesus died to give us!
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT
It’s important to remember that whatever evil has been hurled your way, God will block it and turn it into something for your good. He uses our pain to develop character and show more of His care for us. He gives us wisdom and endurance. In other words, no matter what anyone has done to hurt us, don’t sweat it because God is going to turn it around for our good.
That’s the way God rolls, friend. He picks up the pieces of devastation in our lies and turns them into a beautiful masterpiece of redemption. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp
Joseph’s brothers had dumped him into a well and had him sold into slavery. However, that was all part of God’s divine providence, so that Joseph would be in the position to save their lives later and prevent them from starving to death.
Even the most brutal act of torture and hatred, the crucifixion of Christ, was met by Jesus not with bitterness, but only the words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus set the example for us because He knew what the cross meant for us – forgiveness, freedom, eternal life, reconciliation with God!
Therefore, when we have been hurt, and we are having a tough time forgiving the one who has hurt us, remember this: God will work it out for our good.
With that in mind, we are now in the place to set this example for others. We can model forgiveness and love in an unforgiving world. People are watching, so let’s let them see Jesus in us!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Shame is a dark shadow that creeps over our being and tries to paralyze us with lies— lies telling us that our sin, rather than our Savior, defines us; that we will never be forgiven for what we did. God doesn’t want us to live under the dark umbrella of shame, because it does not align with the truth. Through Christ, we are a forgiven people. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp
Forgiving ourselves means to accept what Christ has already done for us. Instead of carrying the heavy load of shame, Christ offers us rest and to lighten our load.
- God’s Word says that we have been made new!
- I am forgiven! I am 100% made clean because of Christ!
- My past cannot haunt me anymore. I am free!
- God’s Word says I am His daughter. I am the “righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”
- I am loved with an everlasting love.
- I am chosen and accepted by Him.
- I was created in His image!
- There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1)
- The very same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in me!
- There is so much more! Instead of harboring bitterness and shame toward yourself, turn it around by reminding yourself of the truth in God’s Word. The truth will set you free!
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 NIV
Something interesting happens when you pray for your enemy: your heart softens toward that person, and forgiveness becomes a little easier to stomach. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp
We learned some practical steps today to help us walk in forgiveness:
- Meditate on Scriptures about forgiveness.
- Pray for the person you need to forgive.
- Understand forgiveness is mandatory.
- Ask God to reveal what’s at the root of your inability to forgive.
- Grieve the hurt. “Give yourself adequate time to grieve the loss that results from the offense. That is a normal and critical part of the forgiveness process.”
- Make a choice to forgive.
- Experience freedom.
- Forgive again (and again and again!)
Be patient with yourself as you are waling this path. Remember the best part of following Jesus is grace, and give yourself some of it too! ~Natalie Chambers Snapp
Choosing to forgive is seeking peace. Seeking peace is not necessarily being meek and quiet – a doormat for all to walk upon It’s not about people pleasing or being a pushover. Instead, seeking peace means choosing relationship over strife. ~Natalie Chambers Snapp
Discussion Questions Week 4
ICE BREAKER: What do you most look forward to this summer?
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV
QUESTION 1: Why is it so important to forgive, and what are the negative consequences of refusing to forgive?
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15 NIV
No one is born bitter. We become bitter through life experiences. We’ve all heard the cliché “It can make you bitter or better.” It’s a cliché for a reason: it’s truth. (Day 2)
QUESTION 2: How would you describe a bitter person? (page 115). Has there been a time in your own life when this description fit you? If so, what was the cause of your bitterness? (page 116).
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT
Even when we are in the midst of horrible circumstances and pain, we can trust that God will redeem it somehow and use it for good. (Day 3)
QUESTION 3: Recall a time when you were wronged and found it difficult to forgive— but ultimately you did. How would you describe that journey to forgiveness? Did God bring any good from your situation?
Shame is a dark shadow that creeps over our being and tries to paralyze us with lies— lies telling us that we’re horrible; that our sin, rather than our Savior, defines us; that we will never be forgiven for the terrible thing we did. (Day 4)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB
QUESTION 4: What are you believing about yourself or someone else that does not align with the truth of God’s Word? Why do we cling to our shame when we have the promise of having been made new? How can we be free from shame or false beliefs about ourselves?
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:21-24 NLT
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Forgiving ourselves means to accept what Christ has already done for us. Instead of carrying the heavy load of shame, Christ offers us rest and to lighten our load. Here’s another great thing: we need to confess and ask forgiveness for a specific offense only once. God doesn’t want us to carry around our junk, sisters. (Day 4)
QUESTION 5: What does God’s Word say about us? Why is it so important to forgive ourselves and live lightly? What does it feel like to give our heavy load to Jesus once and for all?
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44 NIV
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV
Choosing to forgive is seeking peace. Seeking peace is not necessarily being meek and quiet— a doormat for all to walk upon. It’s not about people pleasing or being a pushover. Instead, seeking peace means choosing relationship over strife. (Day 5)
QUESTION 6: Is there someone you need to forgive? Has a lack of forgiveness kept you from joy and freedom? What do you need to do in order to move toward forgiveness?
Assignments for the Week:
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom to You from God’s Word and to transform your heart.
- Read Week 5 from the member book.
- Attend a small group.
- Participate in daily activities in the Heart to Heart Facebook group.
How This Works
- Register by leaving a comment below. Tell us where you are from and what you hope to glean from this study.
- Subscribe to this site to receive future updates by email. Enter your email address in the field to the right, and then click the subscribe button.
- Join our closed Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, for weekly interaction, activities, videos, and small group sessions. Closed means that no one will be able to see our posts unless they are members of the group. This is for your safety and privacy.
- Small Groups: There will be a schedule for small groups pinned to the top of the Facebook group, Heart to Heart Women’s Bible Study, as we get closer to the time. All you need to do is show up at the scheduled day and time, and the discussion will take place underneath the group photo.
- Follow my ministry page on Facebook, Shari Lewis Ministries, to stay up-to-date on ministry events and for daily prayers, nuggets of wisdom and encouragement for your life, photos that you are welcome to share, and faith building blog posts to strengthen you in your walk with Christ.
- Purchase the study books.
- May 1-7, Study Week 1: Why Do We Need Girlfriends and Where Do We find Them?
- Small groups: Introduction. No need to ready anything ahead of time.
- May 8-14, Study Week 2: Getting Right with God
- Small groups: Discuss Week 1
- May 15-21, Study Week 3: Clash of the Titans
- Small groups: Discuss Week 2
- May 22-28, Study Week 4: The Forgiveness Business
- Small groups: Discuss Week 3
- May 29-June 4, Study Week 5: Blurred Lines
- Small groups: Discuss Week 4
- June 5-11, Study Week 6: Heart Sisters Do’s and Don’ts
- Small groups: Discuss Week 5
- June 12-18
- Small groups: Discuss Week 6
I look forward to seeing you in small groups this week!