WELCOME! (SUGGESTED TIME: 2–5 MINUTES)
Welcome to session 1 of Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. If this is your first time together as a group, take a moment to introduce yourselves to one another before watching the video. Then let’s get started!
OPENING REFLECTION: (SUGGESTED TIME: 10–15 MINUTES)
Leader Note: Have a few people share their response to this question before starting the video:
What was your most helpful takeaway from the introduction or chapters 1–2 of the book?
VIDEO (25:30 MINUTES)
Leader Note: Play the video segment for the Introduction and Session 1.
THIS WEEK’S STATEMENT TO HOLD ONTO:
Forgiveness is not made possible by our determination. Forgiveness is made possible by our cooperation with what God has already done for us.
Use the outline below to help you follow along with the teaching video or to take additional notes on anything that stands out.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are not a package deal.
Forgiveness is the very thing God designed to help heal the hurting human heart.
When we refuse to let God’s forgiveness flow through us to other people, it becomes a heavy weight that can cause anxiety, fear, depression and angst that no human should have to bear.
Forgiveness isn’t dependent on another person making this right. It’s between me and God.
Genesis 4:1-7: The story of Cain and Abel v. 6 paraphrase:
Cain, why are you heating up all of your worries and frustrations to the point you are filled with anxiety and depression?
Psalm 4:4 ESV:
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
…even on their beds they plot evil.
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
The more we focus on God, the more focused we are on His peace. The more we focus on His peace, the more we’ll feel His peace.
When I only think I need a little bit of God’s forgiveness flowing to me, then I’m only willing to let very little forgiveness flow through me.
Matthew 5:42-44 (the message translation) “And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life . . . love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.” (v. 42)
Genesis 4:7: “If you do what is right” = “To make a thing good, or right, or beautiful.”
Forgiveness is a complicated grace that uncomplicates my anger and helps me see beautiful again.
(Suggested time: 40–45 minutes)
Leader Note: We have suggested questions to start with, but feel free to pick any of the additional questions as well. Consider the timeframe of your group and know the ultimate goal is meaningful discussion.
Please know there is no shame or condemnation as you answer these questions. Remember, this is just the beginning of a journey that will be beneficial, but also hard at times.
- It’s not uncommon for people to pull back and want to self-protect when they hear the word forgiveness. What are some of the reasons we may feel resistant to the idea of forgiveness?
- In today’s video we learned that forgiveness isn’t made possible by our determination. Forgiveness is made possible by our cooperation with what God has already done for us. What do you think it means to cooperate with what God has already done?
- Before watching this video, did you think that forgiveness and reconciliation were always a package deal? Why is it still important to forgive someone even if we don’t reconcile our relationship with them?
- Have someone read Genesis 4:6–8 aloud. God asks Cain to pull back from all the emotion swirling inside of him and to choose to do the right and good thing. What does Cain do instead? While most people would never go so far as murder, what could be some of the devastating outcomes of refusing to allow God to address feelings of anger, anxiety, and despair in our own lives? Why is it important to process forgiveness using God’s Word instead of only our thoughts and feelings?
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS (as time allows)
- Read 1 Peter 5:7-9 aloud: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
What similarities do you see between this warning and the one God gives Cain at the end of Genesis 4:7: “…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it”?
- Open your Bible to Psalm 36:1-4. Read this passage aloud and then discuss the attributes of someone who gives in to sin instead of ruling over it. Which of these descriptions do you find personally convicting?
- Now read Psalm 36:5-10 aloud, changing readers every few verses. What attributes of God do we find in this passage that can help us quiet those things that make us anxious about forgiveness? List as many as you can.
- We learned today that forgiveness is a complicated grace that uncomplicates our anger and helps us see beautiful again. What are some ways unforgiveness can keep us from seeing beauty in our lives? How could forgiveness help us start seeing beautiful again?
CLOSING (SUGGESTED TIME: 5–MINUTES)
Leader Note: End your session by reading the “Between-Sessions Personal Studies” instructions on the next page to the group and making sure there are no questions pertaining to the homework. Then take a few minutes to pray over your group, either reading the provided prayer aloud over them or praying your own prayer.
BETWEEN-SESSIONS PERSONAL STUDIES
Every session in the Forgiving What You Can’t Forget Study Guide includes five days of personal study to help you make meaningful connections between your life and what you’re learning each week. In this first week, you’ll work with the material in the introduction and chapters 1–2 of the book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. You’ll also have time to read chapters 3–4 of the book in preparation for our next group meeting.
Father God, as we start this journey, we’re so thankful we can trust Your love for us. And we’re deeply grateful You never shame us for our struggles with forgiveness. Instead, You simply invite us to come to You for Your wisdom, help, and hope. So, that is what we’re doing. Please help us to see forgiveness as a gift and not one more burden on our already broken hearts. Help us to believe that healing and freedom are possible, not just for other people but for us. And help us learn to forgive as You have forgiven us. Freely. Completely. Not to excuse what’s been done to us, but to set us free. You are good. Your ways are good. And that means we can trust that forgiveness is good too. In Jesus’ name, amen.
* * *
Who in your life needs your forgiveness? Is it helpful to know that forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!