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Posted by Daniel Maddry on



Bible: Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)

Bottom Line: We should forgive others because God has forgiven us.


  • 50 Sheets of copy paper—Draw a large heart in the middle of each sheet of paper
  • 2 Buckets of water
  • 20 Foam dishwashing sponges cut into halves 


This is an outdoor water game and you will need a fairly large playing space. 

Divide students into two teams of equal size.

Then, instruct each team to split into two equal-sized groups.

Have each team choose a captain.

Give each team a bucket of water containing 20 foam sponge halves.

Also, give each team captain 25 sheets of copy paper.


Say: Today, you are going to do your best to break each other’s hearts.

Now, I know that’s not something we typically encourage, but it’s how you will win our game today. 

I need one group from each team to stand at each end of our game space.

Have one group from each team stand with the buckets of sponges at one end of the space.

Each of these groups will form a single file line. 

Have the other group stand at the other end of the space with the team captain and the pieces of paper with hearts drawn on them.

All of the those with the team captain will form a line by standing side-by-side.

The team captain will give each of those people a piece of paper to hold in front of them.

When I say, “Go,” one person from each team will throw 10 sponges, one at a time, at the pieces of paper being held by your teammates at the other end. 

Your goal is to soak up as much water as you can and hit the pieces of paper so that they eventually rip because of the water. 

You cannot just rip your piece of paper; it has to break because of the water.

After you take your turn and throw your sponges, the next person on your team will take their turn while you are picking up the sponges and returning them to your bucket.

If your piece of paper rips, you will trade places with the person that threw the sponge at your paper—even if they didn’t get to finish throwing all of their sponges on their turn—and you will pick up the sponges they had thrown.

The team captain will be responsible for giving their teammates a new piece of paper when a piece rips.

The first team to break 10 of their hearts (or however many you choose) wins! 


Say: You might not want to, but you really should forgive each other for being so brutal in our game. 

It was all in good fun! 

Here, however, is an example of someone who was not quite so willing to move on from the pain someone caused in her life.

When Leslie Ray 'Popeye' Charping passed away, his daughter submitted an obituary in the local newspaper that expressed her feelings about her father—and she held nothing back.

Here’s what she wrote:

 "At a young age, Leslie quickly became a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing, and being generally offensive. Leslie enlisted to serve in the Navy, but not so much in a brave & patriotic way, but more so as part of a plea deal to escape sentencing on criminal charges.

Leslie's hobbies included being abusive to his family, expediting trips to heaven for the beloved family pets, and fishing, which he was less skilled with than the previously mentioned. Leslie's life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities besides quick-witted sarcasm which was amusing during his sober days.

With Leslie's passing, he will be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father, and good friend.

Leslie's passing proves that evil does in fact die and hopefully marks a time of healing and safety for all.”

Leslie’s daughter had a lot to say, but what she didn’t say spoke the loudest—she did not forgive her father for the pain he had caused her, and she wanted to make sure no one else did either.

Forgiveness is often difficult to choose, especially when you have to overcome feelings of disappointment, resentment, or the desire for revenge. 

Let’s read what Jesus told His followers and the crowd that was gathered around Him, as part of what we call, “The Sermon on the Mount.”

Read Matthew 6:14-15.

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Once our eyes have been opened to how much God has forgiven us, we no longer have the option to allow bitterness and un-forgiveness to be part of our lives.

If we choose not to forgive someone, we are saying they are less deserving of forgiveness than we are.

Ask: Why is it more difficult to forgive some things more than others? Or some people?

Allow a few responses from students. Share a time when it was difficult to forgive someone in your own life.

Ask: Have you witnessed the long-time results of unforgiveness in your life, or in the lives of those you love? 

Allow a few responses from students.

Forgiveness is pretty important in the life of a believer because without it, we cannot have a restored relationship with God.

Unforgiveness will separate us from God.

Here are a couple of reasons why those who desire a relationship with God should forgive others and themselves.

  1. When you are focused on the hurt and pain of the past, you can’t move into a future that is free of those things

It’s like carrying a heavy weight around your neck that you can’t remove on your own.

God will forgive us of the things that separate us from Him if we simply ask, allowing us to move forward in life with a clean slate and the heaviness removed.

When you forgive others for the things they have done to cause you pain, you are allowing them to experience that same gift in their own lives.

  1. Unforgiveness isn’t healthy.

Bitterness can affect your body.

It can actually make you sick, causing ulcers, depression, anxiety, heart problems, and more.

Maybe it’s because our bodies were not created to live with those feelings; it is not part of God’s plan for us.

Unforgiveness will also affect the healthy relationships in our lives.

Feelings of bitterness and resentment can be difficult to turn off and on, so it’s not unimaginable that those who love you would get the brunt of your harsh feelings towards others.

  1. If we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. 

It’s cut and dry, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

God loves us so much and He knows we can’t serve Him with a forgiven heart that is holding unforgiveness against someone else. 

Unforgiveness clouds our vision from seeing a picture of God’s love because it’s actually the opposite of who God is.

Today, you can begin to take steps towards healing in even the most difficult relationships of your life.

You might not be able to work on forgiving someone on your own—you might need someone to walk through it with you.

Share your feelings with a pastor, parent, or a godly friend.

And then, ask God to help you show to others the same forgiveness you have received from Him.

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