HOW TO WRITE A GROWTH LESSON
1. Find Bible verses that are suitable to each of the spiritual aspects of the lesson:
2. Select only one of those verses for each section.
IX. A SAMPLE STUDY. HOW TO OVERCOME BITTERNESS.
A. Spiritual overview of the study.
1) topic: bitterness. When someone has been unjust to us, can we give glory to God by responding with love to them?
2) Goal: that each participant will befriend someone whom they resent.
3) Blockade: we sometimes disobey god’s command to love our enemies because we want to take revenge.
4) Jesus — a. has already paid for our disobedience, so we can ask forgiveness.
b. lives in us, giving us strength to love our enemies.
B. TEACHING PLAN (you may have the opening prayer before you begin, or after you state the goal)
1. Focus attention. Tell about a time in your life when you were treated unjustly by someone, and you did not want to love that person.
2. State the goal. “Through this lesson, I hope that each of you will find new strength from Jesus so that you can love your enemies, and that you will be eager to go to someone who has wronged you and treat him with love.
3. Show God’s will. Ask someone to read Matthew 18:21-22. Invite the class to think about the following considerations, and give your thoughts about each question. We wonder about Peter’s motive — do we think he desired to forgive everyone? Do we think he was looking for an excuse to with-hold forgiveness? Do we sometimes see this motive in ourselves? Do we think Peter was surprised at Jesus’ answer? Do we thnk Jesus meant that we should limit our forgiveness to 490 times, or that our forgiveness should be limitless? Is our forgiveness towards others limitless? If we put a limit on our forgiveness, are we obeying God’s will? (After you have given your ideas about these questions, you may find out the ideas of the class members. If it is a small group, you may invite people to share their ideas. If it is a large group, you may ask questions and invite people to raise hands.
4. Show the blockade. Let’s explore why we sometimes disobey God’s command to love our enemies, even though we know it and understand it. You can ask for a show of hands, asking how many of them have been treated unjustly, and how many of them have been tempted to hate their enemies. Let’s ask ourselves why we disobey God in this way. Let’s consider — do we think that Jesus would have hated his enemies? Let us examine why Jesus did not hate his enemies, and compare Jesus to ourselves. Please read 1 Peter 2:20-23. According to verse 21, we see why this verse was written: we are to follow the example of Christ. We consider whether people were unjust to Christ. Did Christ have the power to repay them? Did Christ make use of his power to repay them? From verse 23 we see how Jesus found the strength to continue to love. We ask ourselves — did Jesus want justice to be done? Yes, he did, but he did not do it himself. Jesus put the matter into the hands of God. What about us? If we refuse to forgive, could it be that we have refused to put the matter into the hands of God? If so, we have a fresh insight into our sinful nature. Now we know why we need a savior. We have not only disobeyed God’s command to love; we have also refused to “live by faith” in this area: we have refused to put the matter into the hands of God. Now we see why we need a savior today.
5. Show Jesus. Let us see how Jesus can help us. First, explain that Jesus takes care of our past times of bitterness because he has already paid for those sins on the cross. Secondly, we know that Jesus lives in us, and so he is able to change us. Jesus has given us promises to depend upon. Please read 1 Peter 5:10. We consider that God knows we will suffer. We look at the three things God promises to us when we suffer. We can depend on this promise the next time that someone treats us unjustly.
6. Check Goal. Let us remember the goal — first, that each of you will find new strength from Jesus so that you can love your enemies. Have we met this goal? (If the group is large, you can invite people to raise hands if they have met the goal; if the group is small, you can invite people to talk about their response to the lesson.) The next part of the goals was that you will be eager to go to someone who has wronged you and treat him with love. Has anyone met this part of the goal? Would anyone like to share your thoughts?
7. At the end of a lesson, ask whether people have any questions they would like to ask you.
8 Closing prayer. In this prayer, we ask Jesus to forgive us for the times we refused to love our enemies. We ask Jesus to change us and strengthen our new life.