We are to submit to one another as Christ submitted himself to the Father for our sake.
Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:3-11
- As long as we focus our attention on the people we are being asked to submit to, we never will.
- Our behavior towards one another should be governed by what Christ did for us.
- We forgive because He forgave us. We accept because He accepted us. We serve because He served us.
- If everyone considered and treated others better than themselves, the world would be a better place.
- Others are not worthy of your submission, but neither are you worthy of theirs.
- Jesus used His power for the benefit of others.
- A relationship with us took precedent over His own rights, rank and respect.
- Christ choose the relationship option: Our life for His death.
- Don’t allow your rights to interfere with your relationships.
- To refuse to submit to others is to demand more for ourselves than Christ demanded for Himself.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis
- Read the quote from C.S. Lewis. What do we get wrong about our view of humility? How has this word been misused in Christian circles?
- What is culture’s view on submission and humility?
- Where do you draw the line as it relates to subordinating yourself to someone else? Why have you set the limit here?
- Read Philippians 2:1-2. How should our encounters with Christ create unity within our community? What should spur on our commitment to loving one another?
- Read Philippians 2:3-4. How would our relationships be different if we considered others better than ourselves and not be so concerned over the pecking order of life?
- Read Philippians 2:5-11. For Jesus, what took precedent over His rights, rank and respect? Why was Jesus more than willing to lay these things down?
- Read Ephesians 5:21. How does submitting to someone else demonstrate reverence for Christ? On the flip side, how does an unwillingness to submit to others show a lack of reverence?
- Where are you most vulnerable to justify putting your needs and desires above someone else? Why are you vulnerable in this area?
- How is demanding your rights damaging a current relationship?
- Where are you losing the respect of others by demanding their respect?
- What is one thing you can do this week to consider others better than yourself?
At its essence, forgiveness is “you don’t owe me.”
Isaiah 53:11, Romans 13:8-10, Romans 5:8, Romans 12:10
- Forgiveness provides the only safe place for imperfect people to authenticallyconnect.
- We are often trying to force God’s promise instead of simply trusting it.
- We spend so much energy and time elevating small grievances while ignore the real pain that needs to be addressed.
- We create systems to make life work and run efficiently.
- Just because our lives work doesn’t mean we are connected.
- Forgiveness is the state we live in. We can invite others to join us in this place, but we can’t force them to enter.
- When you mask over the hurt, you mask over the forgiveness.
- Death is love demonstrated.
- Love enters into the life of another person to bring value and communicate worth.
- Don’t minimize the pain….feel it. Rumble with forgiveness.
- You get a say in how the story ends.
- Last week’s homework was to address the underlying motivators for your behavior and not the actions themselves (Example: Blowing up in anger (ACTION) vs. a feeling of entitlement (MOTIVATOR)). What did you unearth from this endeavor?
Forgiving creates a new possibility of fairness by releasing us from the unfair past. A moment of unfair wrong has been done; it is in the inevitable past. If we choose, we can stick with that past. And we can multiply its wrongness. If we do not forgive, our only recourse is revenge. But revenge glues us to the past. And it dooms us to repeat it. -Lewis Smedes
- Read the quote for Lewis Smedes. How have you seen this quote play out in your life or the life of others?
- How does unforgiveness multiply the wrongs while keeping us stuck in the past?
- Read Isaiah 53:11. How does forgiveness bring healing into our lives? How does this passage speak to the process of forgiveness? What must occur before forgiveness is satisfied?
- Read Romans 13:8-10 and Romans 12:10. How does loving others fulfill the law? In what ways does living in a state of forgiveness influence our relationships?
- Read Romans 5:8. Death is love demonstrated. How did Christ’s loving actions bring value to us and communicate our worth? Why does love always go first?
“It’s seductive to think that not talking about our pain is the safest way to keep it from defining us, but ultimately avoidance takes over our lives. The idea that we’re only as sick as our secrets” is more than an adage…” -Brene Brown
- Read the quote from Brene Brown. How do you react to pain: to lash out (anger, impatience, vindication, etc.) or to internalize it (grin and bear it, be overtly nice, pretend everything is okay, etc.)? Why do you react in this way? What would it look like to address the pain you feel and rumble with forgiveness?
- What are some areas where you find your life works, but you aren’t connected with others? What do you believe is causing this disconnect?
- You get a say in how the story ends. Having been impacted by Christ’s love, how are you rewriting the story of your wounds?
Confession requires submission.
Isaiah 53:6, Proverbs 28:13, Hebrews 10:1-4,8-14, Ephesians 5:21, 1 John 1:5-10
- When we come to God we often bring our case rather than a confession.
- Repentance is the way we receive forgiveness.
- When we identify where we have confession without submission, we find the places where our buttons are likely to be pushed.
- We live in a culture where we are taught to conceal our mistakes.
- Our system is not God’s system.
- Confession precedes repentance.
- The gift of forgiveness allows us to understand grace in ways that go undetected in our old system of checks and balances.
- Driving to the WHY enables us to find WHAT truly needs to be confessed.
- If we conceal our sin, we rot from the inside.
- When you think of sin and confession, what comes to mind? Does your mind tend to gravitate towards behavior or heart issues?
- How do we receive forgiveness without manipulating and abusing it? How do we use confession to alleviate our guilt?
“If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need to be forgiven… If we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses.” -CS Lewis
- Read the quote from C.S. Lewis and Isaiah 53:6. How do we justify the reasons we have “gone astray”? How can you tell when you are justifying rather than truly confessing?
- Read Hebrews 10:1-4,8-14. Our system is not God’s system. According to this passage, what were some of the shortcomings of the old system? What was it incapable of doing? Even though Christ made a way for us to be whole, in what ways do we continue to live under the old system of forgiveness?
- Read Ephesians 5:21. What does it mean to be submissive in the context of a relationship? What role does submission play in forgiveness?
- Read 1 John 1:5-10. How is confession simply an agreement that something is broken between us and God? What does confession do? How are we positioning ourselves before God when we confess?
- Read Proverbs 28:13. What situations are you stating your case before God rather than offering a confession?
- In this situation, you’ve identified the WHAT (behavior). But, what is driving the WHY (underling motivator)?
- Where do you have confession without submission? What causes you to hesitate to submit in this area?
Just because something is hard to believe doesn’t make it untrue. It only makes it hard to believe.
Isaiah 52:14-15, Colossians 3:11-17, John 21:25, Psalm 19:1-6, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 15:1-19
- Faith is not a cop-out. Faith frames the way we view what is presented.
- The touch of Jesus shaped the value of human beings as being worthy of love.
- The life of Jesus has touched human history more profoundly than any other person or event in the history of the world.
- Everyone has faith. We all possess a frame of belief that influences our worldview.
- His impact is undeniable.
- The wounds of Jesus brought healing to your soul to empower you to bring hope, healing and love to those around you.
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” Richard Dawkins
- Read the quote from Richard Dawkins. Why is faith often viewed as a cop-out that requires no thinking?
- If you were having a conversation with someone like Richard Dawkins, how would you respond to this assertion?
- Read Isaiah 52:14-15 & 1 Corinthians 15:1-19. Why does everything we believe hinge on an empty tomb and Jesus rising from the dead?
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:18. Why is it completely understandable to have doubts about the resurrection of Jesus? What should one do with their doubts?
- Read Psalm 19:1-6 and John 21:25. Take the issue of whether Jesus conquered death off the table for a moment. Where have you seen the touch of Jesus in this world and throughout history?
- Read Colossians 3:11-17. What was the purpose for the life of Christ? Why did He come to heal our wounds? How did His touch bring value to every single person?
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” C.S. Lewis
- Read the quote from C.S. Lewis. How would you describe your faith journey and how you came to believe the claims of Jesus?
- How did you wrestle with the evidence?
- How has the resurrection of Christ changed and impacted you personally?
Forgiveness requires a death.
Isaiah 53:7-9, John 20:13-17, John 12:12-19, Ephesians 2:1-10
- Forgiveness is hard because death is hard.
- His way is the way of resurrection.
- We have been created to live a life that has been resurrected.
- We have been called to live in relationships that are fueled by resurrection.
- For forgiveness to be felt something has to die.
- In the economy of God death is not the end, but a way for resurrection.
- In order to see God’s way, our way has to die.
- Our forgiveness was bought by His blood.
- Why is forgiveness hard?
- What role does death and grieving play in forgiveness?
- What is the danger in expecting your relationships to go back to the way things were once forgiveness has been extended?
- Read John 12:12-19 and Isaiah 53:7-9. What were the crowds expecting when Jesus made His way to Jerusalem? How did Jesus shatter their expectations?
- Read John 20:13-17. Why do you believe Jesus responded to Mary Magdalene in the way that He did? What did He want her to understand when He said, “Don’t hold on to me.”?
- Read Ephesians 2:1-10 How did God make a way for us to be restored and forgiven?
“In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die. If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face the pain. You simply have to hurt.” -Brene Brown
- In what broken relationship are you clinging to the hope that it will return to the way it was before the offense occurred?
- What causes you to hesitate in letting go of the hope that things will return to the way they once were?
- What has to die so you can experience a resurrection in this relationship?
- What would it look like for you to grieve these things that are lost?
Forgiveness frees you from vengeance and vindication.
Romans 12:16-19, Psalm 17:2, Isaiah 53:1,5,10-11
- Being right isn’t about vindication, but restoration.
- Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things.
- Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the consequences or the cost.
- To forgive is an act of liberation and a way to freedom.
- Forgiveness abolishes the scales completely.
- Focus on forgiveness first.
- We must understand the implications forgiveness has on our own lives before we deal with the implications it has on our relationships.
“To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, “I no longer hold your offense against you.” But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the “offended one.” As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us, or worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to freedom for the children of God.” – Henri Nouwen
- What is your initial reaction to the quote above? Do you view forgiveness as an act of liberation? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- What causes you to hesitate to extend forgiveness?
- How have you allowed your wounds to define you? Where do you still see yourself as the offended one?
“O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” – St. Augustine
- Read Romans 12:16-19. How does this passage speak to forgiveness and reconciliation being two different things? Why should our willingness to forgive be independent from the response of the offender?\
- Read Psalm 17:2 and the quote from St. Augustine. How does God’s forgiveness free you from seeking vengeance and vindication? What is the allure to vindicate ourselves?
- Read Isaiah 53:1,5,10-11. According to this passage, what causes God anguish and what brings Him satisfaction? How does God shouldering the weight of our sin pave the way for forgiveness?
- Where are you seeking vengeance and vindication?What would it look like for you to focus on forgiveness first and worry about the details of the relationship later?
- Why do you want to be right in this situation?
- What would it look like for you to focus on forgiveness first and worry about the details of the relationship later?
Forgiveness frees us from the pressure to perform and empowers us to love.
Isaiah 53:1-6, Luke 5:17-26, 1 John 1:8-10, and Colossians 3:12-14
- Forgiveness paves the path for trust. It doesn’t guarantee a restored relationship but it does guarantee a restored soul.
- Forgiveness is a choice to resume a relationship.
- Forgiveness is the way we can be right.
- We have found the right solution to the wrong problem.
- Unforgiveness leaves us under the pressure to measure up and make up.
- As we embark on a 6-week series on forgiveness, we must first get on the same page with our language. How would you define forgiveness?
- Fill in the blanks: (1) I find it most challenging to forgive when ___________.
(2) I find it most challenging to receive forgiveness when __________.
- What makes us feel the need to earn our forgiveness in our human relationships or our relationship with God?
- Read 1 John 1:8-10. How do we misinterpret this passage and create an apology theology? What is the danger in this mindset and how does it push us to perform?
- Read Luke 5:17-26. How were the crippled man’s friends looking for the right solution to the wrong problem? What did Jesus want them to understand about what their greatest need was?
- Read Isaiah 53:1-6. How does this passage speak to forgiveness not being free, but coming at cost? How did Jesus absorb the debt we owed? What does it mean that “we like sheep have gone astray”?
- Where are you struggling with the pressure to measure up and make up?
- Forgiveness is a choice to resume a relationship. What relationship has been damaged due to unforgiveness?
- Read Colossians 3:12-14. What would it look like for you to begin to develop an overall orientation towards forgiveness? If we are going to be in relationships with others, why is forgiveness necessary?
The struggle against sin leads you to the cross.
Galatians 5:13-26, Romans 13:11-14
- You don’t master sin by willpower; you master sin by surrender.
- Where there is no condemnation, you’ll find the freedom you are looking for.
- The way to fight temptation is to surrender.
- To love is to bear the image of God to the people around you.