Sample Lesson

Here is an actual sample lesson from the Forgive and Live Workbook.

What happens when we don’t forgive?

Day 1 – Who’s the Judge?

Unforgiveness can be a comfortable ally. We hold onto unforgiveness because we believe that it gives us power and that we will lose out if we give up the unforgiveness. There are several benefits that we believe we have with unforgiveness. First, we believe that unforgiveness gives us power – the power to make our offender pay; to make them see that what they did was wrong; and to make them change their behavior and their hearts.

The second benefit we assume is that we have protection in our unforgiveness. Even the idea of forgiveness can be repulsive if we believe that it will open us up to more hurt. Unforgiveness, we believe, will build a protective barrier around our heart and warn us of upcoming danger so we will not be caught unaware again.

Our hearts tell us that unforgiveness is our friend, but scripture tells us that it is our worst enemy. It does not give us power but weakens us, making us vulnerable to spiritual enemies who wound and destroy. Unforgiveness does not protect us. It hardens our hearts to God and to others we love, thus keeping them at a distance and leaving us cold, lonely and afraid.

This week we are studying the root issues and resulting problems of unforgiveness. Today we will focus on the effect of unforgiveness and how it is connected to our relationship with God.

1. What does a judge do? (Think of a court of law.)

2. What are the requirements of a judge?

3. What circumstances can disqualify him/her from judging a case?

A judge is required to be just and fair, not to favor one side over the other. If a judge has a relationship with either party, he is required to excuse himself from the case because he could be biased and unfair. Read Matthew 7:1-2 and James 4: 11-12.

4. Whose job is it to judge?

5. What is the danger in judging another?

6. Why aren’t we supposed to judge?

7. Why is God allowed to judge? (See also Ps. 51:4)

Read Romans 2:1-4.

8. What are some consequences of judging others?

9. How does judging others affect our relationship with God?

When we get angry because our offender receives a blessing, it is just like slapping God in the face because it is showing contempt for His kindness.

10. How do these verses correlate to Matthew 25:31-46?

When we sit in judgment we lose not only our connection with God, but also our compassion for mankind. We become so self-focused with making sure that others pay and we don’t get hurt that we refuse to be softened by compassion.

Rate your level of judging others:

1 • • • • 2 • • • • 3 • • • • 4 • • • • 5 • • • • 6 • • • • 7 • • • • 8 • • • • 9 • • • • 10

I know people
do wrong, but it
doesn’t bother me
I have trouble
with people who
sin more than average
I look to find a flaw in everyone I meet

Rate your level of compassion for others:

1 • • • • 2 • • • • 3 • • • • 4 • • • • 5 • • • • 6 • • • • 7 • • • • 8 • • • • 9 • • • • 10

I believe people
get exactly what
they deserve
Everybody needs some
help sometimes, unless
you hurt me
I can lend a helping
hand to anybody

God cares about each of his creations, especially each person whom He created in His own image. (Jeremiah 29:11) Although He longs to be with us, we cannot be in His presence because none of us are perfect like God Himself. (Romans 3:23) Even deep within our hearts, before we ever commit a sinful act, we are not holy like God. (Jeremiah 17:9) And God must reward us according to what we deserve. (Jeremiah 17:10) Our sins deserve death. (Romans. 6:23)

But God, in His abounding love, didn’t want to see that happen. He made a way to bypass judgment and have eternal life. John 3:16 says that God’s heart for us is love and wholeness. His gift to us is eternal life because Jesus took the death that we deserved upon Himself. John 1:14 says that in the fullness of His grace He has given us blessings one after another and the greatest of these is Jesus.

To start a relationship with Jesus, all you need to do is to acknowledge that you have done things your own way. Then ask Jesus to forgive you and to become the leader of your life. Have you done this? ____ If so, when? ______________ If not, would you like to now? ____ All you have to do is pray this simple prayer:

Dear Jesus, I believe that You are God’s Son, that You came to earth, lived a perfect life and died on the cross for my sins. I believe that you rose again on the third day and are now in heaven. I know I have lived life my own way and done things that You have said are wrong. Please forgive me and be the leader of my life. I am now choosing to live life Your way instead of mine. Please help me. Amen

Day 2 – Who’s got you?

Yesterday we looked at who has the right to judge. Today we will look more at why we earnestly desire to be the judge. Adam and Eve started it for us and we’ve followed in their footsteps ever since. Read Genesis 3:1-7.

1. What was Eve’s temptation? (See verses 5-6.)

2. When we are tempted to judge how is that like Eve’s temptation?

3. What were Satan’s tactics? (See verse 1 and 5)

4. With Eve, Satan planted seeds of doubt about God’s goodness and accused God of withholding something good from her. What does Satan tell you to keep you from forgiving? (i.e. If you forgive, they’ll get away with it; they won’t think that what they did was wrong; they won’t think it hurt; they’ll do it again.)

5. Satan is a scam artist. He never promises to give without taking more in return. What has unforgiveness cost you?

Read Matthew 6:14-15

6. How does unforgiveness affect our relationship with God?

7. Does it draw us close to Him, take us away from Him, or have no effect on our relationship with Him at all?

8. Why does God’s forgiveness of us hinge on our forgiveness of others? (Hint: Think about Eve’s temptation.)

Unforgiveness is a big issue for God. Judging another person is like telling God, “You are not doing a good enough job, so I am taking over. I will be God on this one and I’ll show You a thing or two.” He does not appreciate the help, and will let us walk in the delusion that we can do the job until we become desperate and exhausted. It is not until we give up the revenge that God steps in and does the work that He intended. He cannot and will not act until we are out of the way.

When God says He won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others, I don’t believe it means that we have lost our salvation. It means that our fellowship with Him is broken because He cannot forgive the sin of unforgiveness while we are unrepentant and feeling justified in our unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness not only breaks our relationship with God but also ties us to our offender. We carry the offender with us wherever we go. It is like the man in the old west who carried the woman across a river because she had lost her wagon on the trail. She scratched, clawed and complained about her dress getting wet the whole way across. After depositing his burden on the other side, he complained about this ungrateful woman the rest of the trip until someone told him he was still carrying her. He not focusing on God, how he could be used in this life, or even on the beautiful country that surrounded him. He was tied to her emotionally and spiritually until he let go of her. Whom are you tied to?

Day 3 – Who do you love?

People are funny. I have heard folks say, “I just love everybody,” and not 5 minutes later heard them complaining about people’s behavior. We like the idea of love and the “niceness” that it brings especially in church where everybody is supposed to love. Actually practicing love is hard and usually not fun. It takes a lot of spiritual heart surgery to love because once humans grow past 18 months, we aren’t very lovable anymore. Today we will focus on the condition of our hearts and our capacity to love. Read Matthew 12:33-37 and James 3:9-12.

1. How can you tell the attitude of another person’s heart?

2. Can anyone ever truly say, “I didn’t mean what I said”?

3. Think about the things that come out of your mouth. Rate the sweetness that comes from your mouth.

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Sword and daggers
come from my mouth
Mix of sweet and salt,
kind of like Cracker Jacks
My words are a
cool refreshment

Read I John 4:7-21

4. What is love? v. 10

5. Why should we love each other? v. 11-12

6. What gives us the ability to love each other? v. 13-16

7. Can we love God and hate another human? v. 20

8. Can you have love and fear at the same time? v. 18

9. Who are you afraid of?

10. If we are controlled by fear, we not only punish our offender, but everyone else who has the potential to offend us. Who are you punishing that you love? Who are you punishing that you hate?

Since we cannot hate our neighbor, family members or offenders and love God, we cannot hold onto unforgiveness and expect intimacy with the Father. If you have always wondered what has held you back from growing in the Lord, hearing His voice and enjoying His presence, unforgiveness is probably the block. Is unforgiveness worth the cost?

Day 4 – Who’s at the door?

Yesterday we learned some consequences of unforgiveness and how it affects our relationships. In continuing with the same theme, today we will focus on the spiritual impact it has on us. Read Matthew 18:21-35.

1. What was the comparison in the size of debt?

2. What does unforgiveness do to those around us? (See v. 31.)

3. What did the master call the unforgiving servant and why? (See v. 32.)

4. What was the result of his unforgiveness? (See v. 34.)

5. Before the master forgave the servant of his huge debt, his unforgiveness was going to affect everyone and everything associated with this servant. Who is your unforgiveness affecting?
6. This parable is a picture of how God handles unforgiveness. Who is the jailer that He hands us over to?

7. There is a correlation between unforgiveness and cancer, burnout and migraine headaches. How are you being tortured by unforgiveness?

Read II Corinthians 2:10-11.

8. How are we joining hands with Satan when we refuse to forgive?

Unforgiveness has some dangerous ramifications emotionally, physically and spiritually. It causes us to turn our backs on God and link hands with our enemy Satan, who promises us the world but leaves us imprisoned and tortured. Each of us holds the key to our jail cell. We can escape at any time through the act of forgiveness. Are you ready to be free?

Day 5 – Who’s in control?

In the previous days of this week, we have seen the dangers of unforgiveness and why there is such a great focus of this issue in the Bible. Read Ephesians 4:26-32.

1. According to verse 26 is anger a sin?

2. How can we sin in our anger?

3. What happens when we hold on to anger?

4. What are we stealing from others when we are angry?

5. Ephesians 5 & 6 describe what our relationships on earth should look like as Christians. Paul then gives us some tools to help us in these relationships. Go to Ephesians 6:10-18. What gives us the power to not sin in our anger?

6. If we are believers we are dressed in the armor of God. Christ is our righteousness. We have the gospel, our faith and our salvation. The word of God is the sword, but just holding it doesn’t do us much good. We must use it. What else do we need to do? (v. 13, 14 & 18)

7. How well are you using your sword?

8. So, if our job is to stand and to pray, who’s fighting the battle?

9. Who’s fighting your battle – you or God?

Forgiveness is all about letting God fight your battle. We will never be able to win the war or even fight effectively if we as privates are trying to do the job of the General. He may still command us to fight but it will probably not be in the way that we expect to gain results. As privates, we are not privy to the strategy or even all the goals along the way. Throughout the rest of this study we will be learning the job of a private, gaining a little of the General’s perspective, and finding the way to freedom.