Give a funny, light-hearted example of a time when you wanted your spouse to act one way and instead they acted in a much different way. (ex. Maybe they wore something you thought was atrocious. Maybe they told a joke you didn’t think was funny...)
Also, check in with your group to see who memorized I Corinthians 13:4-8. Bestow prizes.*
*If you can’t buy prizes (candy bars?), positive words of affirmation count. And isn’t memorizing the scripture reward enough. ;)
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Are you a person who keeps records of wrongs? Take a minute and let anyone who feels like he or she probably is a recorder keeper share that. What does it look like in their lives to keep records of wrongs? Share a story about a time when you did that.
For those who didn’t feel like they were record keepers, let’s take a quiz to see if they were right: Get out a piece of paper and write down the last time each of these people offended you or hurt your feelings. You have sixty seconds to answer (obviously not all of these relationships will apply to everyone):
- Your boss
- Your spouse
- Your mom
- Your brother or sister
- A co-worker
- A waitress or waiter
- A store clerk
- Your preacher or someone at your church
- Someone on Facebook
- How quickly were you able to recall wrongs? Do you feel good or bad about your response rate? Were the results surprising at all? If so, why?
Why is forgiveness such an essential part of love? Consider God’s decision to forgive us. Is that forgiveness essential to our having a relationship? If so, why?
Has someone forgiven you recently? How did it feel?
Have you had any positive examples of forgiveness in your life? Have you seen it modeled well? Share with the group.
Are you holding onto something you haven’t forgiven? Have you held onto something for too long before? Don’t share the offense, but do share how holding onto it has affected you.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote these words from prison:
“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts...”
- How good are you at accepting your spouse as he or she is? Is that hard?
- Was it harder or easier when you were dating?
- What does it take to get good at accepting that your spouse won’t ever be exactly what you want him or her to be?
Read Matthew 18:21-35.
Jesus says, “ This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
● How will God treat us if we don’t forgive our spouses?
● Does having this in mind change the way you think about forgiveness at all?
Tonight pray The Lord’s Prayer together.
Before you do, look at the line, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Who do you need to forgive so God can forgive you? Have members write any names down before the prayer. If they’re willing, ask them to forgive those people. They might even need to send a text before the prayer. Or personally commit to a conversation. Just give your group a minute or two of silence for soul-searching. Then, pray the prayer together out loud.