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Session 4:

Transforming Regret

Next Level | Message Series

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”

Matthew 18:21–22


Regret is a constant force in our lives. Since we only live once and we don’t have the luxury of going back to smooth out some of our rougher decisions, we’re all presented with ample opportunity to build regret every day. We can regret something as simple as a what we ordered for lunch, or something as huge as a hurtful word that ruined a relationship. But there is a great counter to regret: forgiveness. Receiving forgiveness for ourselves retains the lessons we need to learn from mistakes, but removes the requirement of guilt and shame. Forgiveness, when experienced through God, is a life-changing experience.

Still, it may be the case that there is nothing less natural to us than forgiveness. We’re built to want justice and fairness (especially for ourselves), but the concept of forgiveness is based on releasing those systems—forgiveness is removing a deserved penalty. So, it is understandable that some of us struggle deeply with living a life that reflects God’s forgiveness. But what if feeling forgiven is a muscle we can build? In today’s session we’re going to explore at least one method of practicing forgiveness that will help us grow in our ability to live a free life.


Share Your Story

Start the conversation by using these suggested questions:

Have you ever been forgiven for something big? How do you view the person who forgave you?

Are there things you’ve done in your life that you find it harder to feel forgiven for? What makes certain regrets more powerful than others in your life?

Is there someone in your life who you seem to forgive easily? Why is that? Is it easier or harder to feel forgiven yourself?

Would you say you’re a beginner, a novice, or an expert forgiver? How would other people in your life rate you?

Watch the Video

Hear God’s Story

The short story we’re going to read from the Bible today involves a conversation with Jesus and one of his closest disciples, Peter. Peter would go on, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, to be one of the most influential Christian leaders of the early church, leading thousands to faith in Jesus. But at the time of this story we’ll read, Peter was mostly known for being hotheaded, brash, and impulsive. As we read a question that Peter had for Jesus, see if you can pick up on some of the real motivation Peter may have had in asking it, and what effect Peter’s personal regret about some of his own past may have had on his tone.

Read Matthew 18:21–22.

  • Peter is asking for a maximum number from Jesus, when it comes to forgiveness. Why do you think we, like Peter, are often interested in setting that type of limit?

  • Peter offers the suggestion that perhaps seven times would be enough to forgive someone. Where do you think he got that number? What biblical or religious significance would seven have had for Peter and Jesus?

  • Jesus’ response also uses the number seven, but ups the stakes to “seventy times seven” (or “seventy-seven,” depending on the translation you’re using). This much-higher number was not intended to simply be a large maximum. What did the response Jesus gives really signify for our capacity to forgive others?

  • Knowing that Peter was a normal person with failures and regrets in his life, what could Jesus have wanted him to learn about himself by challenging him to forgive others lavishly?

Create a New Story

In this section, let’s talk about how we’ll apply what we’ve learned from God through the Bible passage. We’ll decide on a few practical steps we can take this week to live out God’s truth.

  • Which is easier: forgiving someone else for doing something wrong, or feeling forgiven for the things you regret in your own life? Why?

  • What role could growing in our capacity to forgive others have on our sense of our own forgiveness?

  • Who is it in your life that sometimes feels like they’ve maxed out your capacity for more forgiveness? Do you think anyone feels that about you? How could stretching your own capacity to forgive help you make amends with those you’ve wronged?

  • Can you identify two small ways you could show undeserved forgiveness this week?

  • What is one area of your own life where you could allow Jesus to help you feel more forgiven this week?

Make sure to close your meeting in prayer, thanking God for his forgiveness and the challenge to forgive others. Ask God to use our regret to transform our lives, so we can live more like him.

— For Parents —

It’s easy to compartmentalize our own faith from that of our children. Oftentimes the only crossover is when we ask, “What did you learn today?” when picking them up from school.

Instead of keeping your faith separate from your children, one of the best opportunities you have to model faith is to intentionally share about what God is teaching you. In this section, you will find a simple activity to create space to talk about the Sunday messages with your children. Your kids can understand more about what a relationship with God looks like and more about who God is to you.


Daily Devotions

Day 1
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
What are some regrets that I carry that could be lightened with more repentance and receiving God’s forgiveness?
Day 2
If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)
What are some areas in my life where I have felt this forgiveness and cleansing?
Day 3
For God’s anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
Do I see God as forgiving and loving? What’s holding me back from this truth?
Day 4
I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins. (Jeremiah 31:34b)
What could it mean to me that God stops thinking about my sins, once they’re forgiven? How can I experience that same freedom from my regret?
Day 5
The Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
How can I experience the freedom God wants for me through believing I’m forgiven?
Day 6
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. (Psalm 119:45)
How can I obey God more this week, to experience freedom from my regret?

Ready for the Next Session?