COMPASSIONATE AND GRACIOUS
Oftentimes the picture we have of God is one that has Him condemning us for any mistakes and temptations in our lives. We fear such condemnation, which may lead us to try to hide from God. But the true nature of God is one of compassion and mercy. He loves and understands us, but He also wants what’s best for us. How can embracing the graciousness of God rid us from the heaviness of shame and turn us toward a better version of ourselves?
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
1. Can you remember a time when you were younger and you did something wrong, so you tried to hide it from your parents? What was the experience like?
2. Can you think of a recent example from your life or someone’s close to you that demonstrates the compassion and mercy of God? Share this example with the group.
3. Read Matthew 4:1-4. Knowing that Jesus Himself was tempted, how do you think God reacts to the temptations we face? How can knowing that God understands your temptation help you in tough situations?
4. Read Exodus 32:7-8. God shows us that even after we’ve seen evidence of His goodness, it is often easy for us to quickly forget, turning back toward temptation. What sort of difficult circumstances can you identify in your life that lead you to feel the most tempted (e.g., loneliness, boredom, comparison, sadness, etc.)?
5. Have you ever felt too far gone to be forgiven by God? How did you overcome such feelings? If you still struggle with the idea of being too far from God to turn back, what promises from God, including His mercy, could help you see the truth of God’s nature?
6. God doesn’t stand ready to condemn us for our mistakes, but He does want us to understand that there are often very real consequences for our wrongs. He wants to help us avoid those consequences. Knowing that this is the heart of God, how can we demonstrate that same sentiment toward others around us?
7. We learned this week that it’s not wrong to be tempted, and that it’s what we do with our temptation that makes the difference. But when we make mistakes, it’s important to seek God’s forgiveness, and understand that because He is a God of compassion, we don’t need to carry the weight of shame once we’ve received God’s grace. This week, pray to God and ask Him to search your heart for any undue shame you may be carrying. Commit to giving it over to God, and share what you learn from that experience with a running partner or someone close to you.
Matthew 4:1-4 – Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Exodus 32:7-8 – The Lord told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”
As you look to dig deeper into the topics of this week’s message, consider exploring the “Obey God” outcome on Gateway’s Spiritual Growth Path. Here’s an excerpt:
Central to Scripture’s teachings is the understanding that our relationship with God is based on grace: “For it is by grace you have been saved…not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).. Paul again addressed boasting when he wrote that he would “never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). We stand before God, not because we have been good, but because the cross of Christ has brought about needed justification and reconciliation. This teaching, though, is often grossly misunderstood and misapplied. Scripture does not teach that obedience is optional.… The cross of Christ is not a license to get away from God, so we can do our own thing. The cross of Christ is a license to get close to God, so we can follow him and obey him, because God’s ways are good. Authentic followers of Christ come to Christ, because they are fed up with the corruption in this world and in their own lives, and they ache to be free from it. Freedom is not freedom to sin, because we love sin, but freedom from sin, because we hate sin. Grace, in Scripture, is not only described as the gift of God’s forgiveness, but…teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness…and to live self-controlled…
To complete the outcome in its entirety, go to gatewaychurch.com/obey-god