Forgiveness is a necessary attitude in the Christian life. To receive forgiveness, one must be willing and able to forgive others. Jesus, on Calvary’s cross, showed the perfect example of forgiveness. Stephen, while being stoned to death by his persecutors, cried with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”—certainly an act of forgiveness. See Acts 7:60
The Apostle Peter, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has given us a formula. We read: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” It is promised that “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8). With a promise such as this, we would do well to dig deep into the full meanings of these qualities. We, as Christians, must add them to our spiritual character so we can fulfill Christ’s charge to us to bring forth fruit.
It is possible that Peter presented these attributes in an intended progression. Taking these attributes as a basis for our quarter, we have included several others which are important to the development of Christian character.
As you study each of these lessons, be aware of how these attributes overlap and build on each other.
- Write your own definition of the word forgive.
- What are some similarities/differences in the meanings of the following words?
- Godly sorrow
- How do these words relate to forgiveness?
- In what way were Joseph and Stephen like Jesus?
- When you consider the treatment Joseph received at the hands of his brothers, why do you think he helped his family during the famine?
- Explain how forgiveness relates to the fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23.
- Explain why it is important for a Christian to show a forgiving spirit through his actions.
- What are evidences of true forgiveness? Give examples.
- If someone asks you to forgive him, is it necessary to be sure he is sincere? Explain your answer.
- Why is our measure of forgiveness so important?