This week's Small Group Guide is composed of questions from this week's GPS Guide. The questions relate to the Scripture for that particular day. You can download the full week's GPS as a printable document for the context of each question below (in the printable version, the recommended small group questions are marked with a special bullet point).
“As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other.” Sound simple? C. S. Lewis learned that it isn’t: “I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me…. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me…. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances… that [real forgiveness] we can always have from God if we ask for it.”* How have you learned to recognize the difference between saying, “It was no big deal” and truly forgiving the part of any action that had no good excuse?
For Jesus, forgiveness was a fundamental Kingdom reality. If God did not forgive, no fallible human could have hope. But Jesus also knew that it’s simply not credible to claim God’s forgiveness for ourselves if we aren’t willing to forgive others. Do your background and temperament make it easier or harder for you to believe that God truly forgives you, and for you to extend that forgiveness to others?
How do you see yourself at your deepest level in relation to most others—as “less than” or “more than”? How can Jesus' image of God’s forgiveness and love for the outcast tax collector help you see more clearly how God values you? How can God’s love and grace help you maintain a healthy sense of spiritual need without sinking into a sense of contempt, either for others or for yourself?
In Jesus' story, the once cocky son had hit bottom. He had no demands—he just hoped for a square meal in the servants’ quarters. What does it say to your heart to picture God racing down the road to embrace you, even if you are dragging yourself home to God? The son sadly said, “I no longer deserve to be called your son.” The father wasn’t worried about “deserving,” just as the God who gave himself on the cross was not concerned about whether you “deserved” that sacrifice. If being part of God’s family is not mainly about deserving, then what is it about? If it is not about deserving, then what moves you to change your life in positive ways when you are welcomed into the family?
* C. S. Lewis, “On Forgiveness” in The Weight of Glory and other addresses. HarperSanFrancisco, 1976, pp. 178, 181. (Lewis’s entire essay is well worth reading.)
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