For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing a Bible study discussion guide series for my local church following the weekend message series called “Brave.” Since I haven’t been able to update much here, I thought I’d copy the discussion guides here for you to read. Links to the original sermon messages for wax week’s discussion are given, as well as follow up tips to help in applying the message to your daily practices.
- Link to that weekend’s message: http://vineyardchristian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/marc_ladouceur_1-29-2017.mp3
- Worship suggestion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IRQTaSo9Nc
- Opening Prayer: Jesus help us today to have the humility to listen to others when they come to us with truth in love and to have the obedience to take that truth in love to others when needed. Amen.
- Opening Question/Food for thought (as applicable, matching the theme of the message)
Nikolas of Myra was born sometime in the third century in Asia Minor to a Greek family. He was also passionate about his faith. So much so that when he was invited to the Council of Nicaea fairly late in his life, he is said to have gotten into an argument with another priest who belonged to the group called the Arians (who believed that Jesus was created as a secondary person by God rather than being equal to God) Nikolas was so angry at what he saw as the man’s sinful opinion, he punched him in the jaw causing a serious injury.
Today we now mostly remember Nikolas as Saint Nicholas, better known as Santa Claus.
What is the most awkward conversation you’ve ever had in your life? What made it awkward?
- Discussion/Bible Verses/Activities (writing, acting, or prayer)
This week’s example in Bravery from the Bible is when the prophet Nathan confronted King David about his sin, sleeping with another man’s wife and then getting that man killed. Nathan confronted David by first telling a story about another man’s sin, stealing and killing a lamb from a poor man. Only after David angrily stated that man deserved to die did Nathan then confront David about his own sin, much worse and thus deserving of even harsher punishment.
Hopefully, you never have to confront someone you love over the fact that they killed someone, but chances are you know somebody who’s treated another person with disrespect, or has otherwise behaved in a way that is out of line with our shared values. What should these conversations look like? Why should we have them? Let’s take a moment to consider this teaching from Colossians. [read Colossians 3:16-17 as a group]
What does it mean to you to admonish someone in wisdom and to do it in the name of Jesus?
Like Marc mentioned, for many people these conversations can be a struggle. What, if anything, makes you reluctant to have conversations like this?
Marc gave us three things to remember when we have these types of conversations with others.
- we need to have the courage to confront –we need to be willing to have these conversations in the first place. It’s always a good idea to take some time to think clearly about the conversation first, and we absolutely should take the time to pray about it, even if just in the moment.
- We have to be a people willing to talk in a way of humility and love – we should not be having these conversations with a goal of “being right” and we should be very very cautious about letting anger drive us in the conversation. If possible, take some time and prayer beforehand to clear away your anger. Remind yourself of the relationship you have with the person. Review in your mind and prayer the good things you’ve done together, things they have done for you out of love and friendship.
- [read Matthew 7:3-5 as a group] How does this affect the way you approach your love in the conversation?
- We need to be speaking towards transformation- again, the goal of these conversations is not just to be “right.” We should be going into the conversation with a goal of helping our friend to become better as a person. Remember, love is our driver here.
It’s also worth noting that Jesus gave some great rules on having these types of loving confrontation conversations. In Matthew 18:15-20, he lays out a series of steps [read those verses as a group]
Have you ever had to have this kind of conversation with someone? How did it go?
How do the steps outlined by Jesus help to make these conversations more effective and respectful?
But what about being on the other side of that conversation? What happens when someone comes to confront you about something you have said or done? Well, Psalm 51 was written about that exact situation. It was either written by David after he was confronted by the prophet or it was written later by someone else who was writing as a teaching about that story. (this was a common teaching tool found several times in the Bible, but it makes it sometimes confusing for us to know who wrote a particular psalm.) The entire Psalm is a great prayer, but let’s take a moment to consider just one part of it [Read Psalm 51:10-12 as a group]
Why does the psalm writer give such attention to his heart? How is his prayer of restoration important?
Some things to remember if you are confronted by someone with a conversation like this:
- They may not do it “right” that is follow all the guidelines we’ve talked about here. Don’t worry about whether they’re following the correct steps, but first pay attention to the fact that they care enough about you to have what’s probably not a very comfortable conversation
- Watch out for being defensive. Often our first reaction to someone confronting us is to come up with all the arguments about why they’re wrong. Pray. Listen to what they’re saying. Take a moment to honestly ask yourself where they may have some good points.
- Respect and honor them for having the courage to have this conversation. Recognize that they’re showing you love in a REALLY difficult way. Thank them for that first!
Has someone ever come to you with a conversation like this? What could you have differently in your reaction if it happens again?
- Weekly Challenge/Homework
- Look at your own life. What is something you’ve said or something you’ve done that you think someone else might feel the need to confront you about? (It may not be something you’ve actually done wrong, but it might appear sinful to someone who sees it from the outside, maybe without the whole story) How would you want that person to approach you? What would you want your response to look like?
- Read all of Matthew 18 in prayer. In the gospels, stories are often told in an order that gives them a different emphasis. What do you think it means that Jesus teaching about having confrontational conversations in 15-20 happens alongside stories about not causing someone to stumble (v6-9) the parable of the wandering sheep (v10-14) and the parable on forgiveness?(v21-35)
- Like we said earlier, David wrote Psalm 51 after he was confronted with his sin of killing Uriah. Take some time this week to pray through the whole Psalm, maybe a few verses at a time.
- Ending Prayer: Lord Jesus, make our hearts sensitive to listen when others come to us to speak about sin in our lives. Make us humble enough to listen to them fairly and give their concerns just consideration. Also make us willing to have hard conversations with people we love. Lead us to have those conversations in a way that shows respect and makes our love for them a first priority. Amen.
- Additional Resources: The book Caring Enough to Confront by Dr David Augsburger is a teaching on how to have respectful and loving confrontational conversations with each other.