An off-duty police officer was on a date enjoying his night off from work. Date night quickly switched to active duty when he spotted an attempted robbery. While trying to stop the robbery, the officer was shot in the chest.
Show the following video [1:49]:
Judge Shows Man Mercy
According to this newscast, the reason the judge gave Rodian Ortega—one of the accomplices—a light sentence of only six months in jail and five years on probation is his lack of criminal record and his “suitability for forgiveness.” Suitability in this case means what is appropriate or fitting for the person and the situation.
- What makes a person, or a person in a particular situation, “suitable for forgiveness”? (Answers will vary but may include: the person got dragged into someone else’s poor choices; the person is genuinely sorry; the person is young and made mistakes; in this case, the person is not the one who shot the gun. If anyone mentions that everyone is suitable for forgiveness all the time because of Jesus, accept but do not comment on the answer.)
At the hearing for the other accomplice, the officer said he does not hate the man but that he forgives him.
- What do you think went on in the officer’s mind and heart in order for him to reach the conclusion to forgive? (Possible answers may include: maybe he thought back to when he was young and would want another chance; maybe he felt joy to be alive and wanted to share that; maybe he felt the physical pain and was angry but genuinely cares about people; etc.)
- When you are in a situation where someone has wronged you, is it easy or difficult to forgive? Explain.
Rodian Ortega apologized and expressed gratitude for the light sentence. We do not know what he did after he left the court room. He may never commit a crime again. Or, he may go out and be part of another attempted robbery.
- If Ortega commits additional crimes, do you think he will be “suitable for forgiveness”? Why or why not? (Students may conclude that the first time was excusable, but if he does it again he deserves to pay; it depends on whether he was an accomplice or the one in charge; he might deserve one more chance, but then that’s it; we would want to be forgiven every time, so he should be forgiven, too; etc.)
- What is your response when someone you have forgiven repeats the same behavior after you forgave him or her the first time? (Your preteens may mention getting mad; deciding not to forgive this time; giving them “three strikes you are out,” etc.)
- After being forgiven by the police officer, how do you expect Ortega and the other accomplice to treat those who offend them? (Answers will vary; hopefully they will offer forgiveness.)
Forgiving others may sound easy, but in practice it can be difficult. When we are hurt, we may want the person who offended us to pay in some way for the pain we feel. Although it can be challenging, forgiveness is a vital part of a Christian’s life. In today’s lesson, we will get some insight into the importance of forgiveness.
Looking for Steps 2, 3 & 4?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide. For upper elementary, middle school, and high school your Step 4 appears below. For adult, use the Step 4 in your teacher’s guide. To purchase a teacher’s guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes.
- Internet access
- Printouts on cardstock of the Forgiveness Cup template (1 per student; template found here)
- Paper or cardstock
- Plastic cups (2 per student)
- Optional: Paper cutter
Before class, print out enough of the Forgiveness Cup templates so that each student has a copy. If time is an issue, you may want to cut apart the cards and cup bands with a paper cutter rather than having your preteens cut them out by hand.
Thinking back to the video we watched earlier, we do not know the off-duty officer’s personal story. It is possible that the officer who forgave Rodian Ortega knows what it is like to be forgiven. We do not know for sure, but it is possible that the judge who offered Ortega a light sentence may also know what it is like to be forgiven. When we know true forgiveness, it is our responsibility to offer forgiveness to others.
Give each student two plastic cups and one printed template. Distribute tape, scissors, and pens or pencils.
Hold up one cup. When Jesus died for us, He paid the price for our sin. His death and resurrection assure us of forgiveness. We are going to make cups of forgiveness; we will put a red wrapper on this one to represent Jesus’ blood making a way for our forgiveness.
Hold up the other cup. Not forgiving others can wear on us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and even physically. When we forgive others, we honor God, free others, and allow ourselves to live the full life God has for us. We will wrap the other cup in a green band to represent life—life free of the burden of holding grudges.
Instruct the students to cut out the cards and place them in the appropriate cups. The cards asking for forgiveness go in the red labeled cups. The cards offering forgiveness go in the green labeled cups.
Instruct your preteens to cut out the bands for each cup. Have them trim the ends, so the bands fit the size of the cups. Then wrap the bands around the cups and tape the ends together to secure the bands.
You may want to play this quietly while the students work [4:25]:
Matthew West – Forgiveness (Lyrics)
We can use these cups during the week to help us get in the practice of forgiving others as God forgives us. Each day when you pray, fill out a card from the red cup. Pray about what you wrote and ask God to forgive you. Think about how freeing it is to know that God does not hold that sin against you.
Then, fill out a card from the green cup. Think about how God forgave you. How can you not forgive another person after God forgave you? Pray and ask God to help you forgive the person for what you wrote on the card. Forgive him or her.
When you are done praying, rip up and throw out the cards, leaving behind your sin and your grudge about another’s sin. Live as one who is forgiven and allow the person you forgave to live that way, too!
Lead the students through a practice using the cups of forgiveness. There are seven cards in each cup, one for each day of the week, so this will use their Sunday cards.
- What does it feel like to be forgiven by God? (Answers will vary; allow students to express relief, freedom, etc.)
- What does it feel like to let go of a grudge and forgive someone who offended you? (Answers will vary; some may express how difficult it is. Allow them to share freely without judgment.)
Close in a benediction: Go and forgive others the way God has forgiven you.
(For our adult customers: we are not affiliated with and do not endorse any website or any other media listed on these pages. At the time of writing, our editors carefully review the referenced material and non-references web page content. However, due to the nature of the Internet, non-cited content on the website [including pop-ups, links, and ads] changes frequently and is beyond our control. Please review carefully before showing links in the classroom.)
(For our upper elementary, middle school, and high school customers: David C Cook is not affiliated with and does not endorse any website or any other media listed on these pages. At the time of writing, David C Cook editors carefully review the referenced material and non-referenced web page content. However, due to the nature of the Internet, non-cited content on the website [including pop-ups, links, and ads] changes frequently and is beyond our control. Please review carefully before shoeing links in the classroom.)