Forgive as the Lord Forgave You [Young Explorers Recap]

We are in the process of memorizing Colossians 3:1-14. Last night we added verse 13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Forgiveness is one of those things that is much more difficult that it sounds. We defined forgiving someone as to “stop being angry with someone even though they have wronged you.” This is really difficult! Not only is it hard to swallow your feelings and say the words, “I forgive you,” but to actually let go of the anger in your heart can be even more challenging.

Like last week, I read a couple of case studies about our fictional friend, Marty, and had the kids respond to some discussion questions. In the first story, Marty’s friend David steals one of Marty’s model cars. We talked about how Marty should forgive David regardless of whether David apologizes or not. Forgiveness is something we take care of in our own hearts. We can’t blame someone else for our anger or our grudges. We are responsible to forgive whether the person who wronged us has demonstrated that they deserve it or not.

We also talked about how true forgiveness allows Marty to treat David kindly the next time he sees him—even if David refuses to apologize or return Marty’s car. If Marty no longer harbors anger in his heart, he can treat David with love, even though David doesn’t deserve it.

Another story I told was about Marty breaking his mom’s expensive vase. This brings up an interesting point. If we are supposed to always forgive people, how come it is okay parents to give their children consequences? I think you all would love to have heard the kids’ answers! Don’t let them fool you that they don’t know and understand that consequences are for their own good!

We all agreed that a loving parent corrects their children when they are wrong and even if they forgive them (and are no longer personally angry with their children) they are still right to give their children a consequence.

The last point we talked about was the importance of understanding that no one has more to forgive than God does. All of our sins are against Him, and he is 100% innocent and righteous—and yet he forgives us. It is important to remember that anyone who sins against us requires just a tiny portion of the forgiveness we have been given in Jesus.

I illustrated this point by adding an alternate ending to the story about Marty breaking his mom’s vase. Right after his mom forgives him of something really big (breaking an expensive family heirloom), Marty is faced with the decision of whether or not to forgive his little sister Lilly for breaking one of his crayons. What would Marty’s mom’s response be if Marty refuses to forgive his little sister of something small just moments after her has been forgiven something very large?

Some of the kids recognized this story, and I admit it isn’t original! It’s a variation on a parable Jesus told in Matthew 18:21-35 about an unmerciful servant and a king. The king’s response when his servant refuses to forgive after being forgiven is to throw him back into jail. It is easy to understand the King’s perspective—what a wicked servant!

And yet we all do this when we hold on to anger, nurse a grudge, or relive hurt. We are refusing to forgive what is (in comparison) small offense when we have been forgiven to the utmost. This is what Paul means in verse 13 when he says, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

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