Sermon by Rev. Trevor Johnston
Series: Letting Go, the Art of Forgiveness, Week 2 – “Determine the Debt

  1. If you’ve had an experience where you got into a financial debt, tell the group about it briefly.
  1. Read Matthew 6:9-15:
    This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
  1. Today, we’re focusing on Matthew 6:12, and on what it means to be a debtor. When one person hurts another person, how it similar to having a financial debt?  Name some parallels.
  1. Scripture speaks of two kinds of debt that we can have in relationships:
  1. Vertical Debt – My Debt with God

Read Colossians 2:13-14:  When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

What strikes you as you read this passage?  What is Paul saying here about the Christian life?


  1. Horizontal Debt – Our Debts with Each Other
  1. Pastor Trevor explained that you may know…
  • Who hurt you….
  • And what they did to hurt you…
  • But until you know what they OWE you, won’t be ready to forgive.

And then he said, “General forgiveness won’t heal specific wounds.”  What did Pastor Trevor mean by that?


  1. Have you ever tried to forgive someone “generally” for a particular hurt they caused you? If so, how did that work out for you?
  1. There are some important steps we need to go through to prepare ourselves to forgive. Have you ever rushed into forgiveness so quickly that it didn’t really help anything, or it didn’t last?  If so, tell about that experience.
  1. Step one to prepare for forgiveness is to face the facts. This may involve writing a list of people you need to forgive and why you need to forgive them.  What are the benefits of going through this step?
  1. Step two is to feel the hurt. This is where you choose not to pretend you’re emotionally detached about what the other person did.  Instead you really face up to what you felt when the person hurt you and name it.  Describe some of the feelings you’ve experienced at various times when a person has wronged you.
  1. Step three is to admit your hate. As Christians, since hate is wrong, we might try to bury the feeling or deny that we feel it. What happens when we deny feelings of animosity that we actually have towards someone?
  1. Stephen Seamands said, “Forgiveness begins when we are ruthlessly honest about what was done to us. We don’t cover up what happened, explain it away, blame ourselves or make excuses for the other person. Squarely and realistically, we face the truth: ‘I was violated and sinned against. I was hurt. What they did was wrong.’”

How does this quote from Dr. Seamands add to your understanding of the process of forgiveness?

  1. If you’re feeling angry and hurt, it might help to read an “Imprecatory Psalm” – which is the name we give to Psalms which are poetic prayers that expressed pain or anger to God. Select a Psalm from the following list to read out loud as a group. Psalm 12, 35, 55, 69, or 109.  What do you notice or learn from this Psalm?
  1. Corrie Ten Boom said it felt impossible for her to forgive the Nazi soldier who had mistreated Corrie and her dear sister Betsy in the concentration camp, where they suffered and Betsy died. After telling her story, Corrie concluded, “Can you forgive?  No, and I can’t either.  But God can.”  What did she mean by that?  How does that work?

If you’re in a place with Wi-Fi, you might wish to check out the following YouTube video with Corrie’s own voice telling this story:


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