In this devotional for kids about forgiveness, we’ll dive into what the Bible says about the power of forgiveness, both for the one who is forgiven as well as the one who forgives. Cover one discussion topic per day, per week, or however it works best for your family.
Discussion 1: Everyone who believes is forgiven and set free
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”
Have you ever played freeze tag, where once you are tagged you must freeze in one position until you are set free by another player on your team? Depending on the position you were in when you were tagged, you were likely quite relieved when you were set free!
In the Book of Acts from the Bible, we read about a different kind of being set free. Have you ever done something you know breaks one of God’s rules, such as lying to your parents? When we break God’s rules, it’s called a sin. But thankfully, we read in the Bible that if we believe in Jesus, we are set free from our sins for all eternity, forever and ever!
- How do you feel when you break one of God’s rules, such as lying to someone?
- Why does God set us free from our sins?
- How can we set others free from their mistakes?
- Who can you forgive today?
Discussion 2: Forgive us as we forgive others
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
In the Gospel of Luke in the Bible, Jesus teaches us how to pray in what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” In this prayer, Jesus shows us how we need to ask God to forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Here, Jesus reminds us that he wants to forgive us and he wants us to forgive others. He wants us to set others free of their sins, but he also knows it’s good for us when we forgive others. When we free others by forgiving them, we free ourselves from our anger and resentment.
- What mistakes have you made recently that you can ask forgiveness for? (We all make mistakes everyday. God still loves us!)
- How does it make you feel to know God forgives you and your mistake is completely erased and forgotten in God’s eyes?
- Who can you forgive today?
- How does it make you feel when you forgive someone?
Discussion 3: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger”
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
In the Bible, there are several letters written by the Apostle Paul. The word “apostle” means “messenger,” and Paul was called an apostle because he was a messenger for God as he was one of the first people to share the Good News about Jesus. He helped start the first Christian churches and wrote letters to the church members, encouraging and guiding them. The wonderful thing is that we get to read these same letters because they are recorded in the Bible.
The Bible verse above comes from a letter Paul wrote to Christians who lived in a country called Ephesus. He was reminding the Ephesians to forgive each other, just as Christ forgave them.
Did you notice what else he told the Ephesians? He said to stop being angry with each other and instead be kind to one another. It’s easy to hold onto anger when someone hurts us, but Paul’s advice to the Ephesians is good advice for us, too. When we forgive people who hurt us, we free ourselves from anger’s grip on us and can instead feel God’s peace and love.
- Why does God want us to forgive each other?
- Who are you angry with right now?
- What can you do to forgive this person?
- What can we do to forgive ourselves and let go of being mad at ourselves?
Discussion 4: How many times do I need to forgive someone?
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18: 21-22
In the Bible verse above, Peter (a close friend of Jesus and one of his disciples) asks Jesus how many times he needed to forgive people who hurt him. In response Jesus says, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
People who have studied the Bible for a long time tell us that Jesus used the number seventy-seven times to symbolize boundlessness, meaning there is no limit to the number of times Jesus wants us to forgive a person.
You might say to yourself, “but that’s not fair. If a person keeps sinning, they don’t deserve forgiveness.” But when we start thinking this way, we need to think about how God forgives us, even when we keep sinning day after day. You see, we don’t deserve to be forgiven either, but God still forgives us over and over again. And likewise, Jesus wants us to forgive others over and over again, too.
- How many times do we need to forgive someone?
- How can we forgive a person, yet still protect ourselves from someone who keeps hurting us?
- How does justice and forgiveness work together?
Discussion 5: Jesus asks God to forgive even those who killed him
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
In the scripture above, Jesus is praying, asking God to forgive the people who beat and killed him. Even though Jesus has every right to hold onto his anger, he chooses to replace anger with compassion. In the midst of his unbelievable suffering, Jesus prays to his Father to seek mercy for those who have hurt him.
- Why does Jesus ask his Father to forgive the people who were killing him?
- How can we offer a forgiving heart to those who hurt us?
- How does forgiving others help our family, our friends, our church, our city, our country and our world?
Thank you for exploring forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves or others is easier said than done. It takes a lot of practice. Keep choosing to forgive every day, and it’ll get easier. Remember that when you forgive others, you are acting like Christ and shining his light into what can sometimes seem like a dark world. Plus, the more you open your heart to forgiveness, the more you’ll set yourself free!