As a teen, do you remember playing the game, “mercy”?
You know… the game where you hold hands with someone, try to bend each other’s wrists backwards until one of you can’t stand it anymore – and then, in defeat, one of you yells, “MERCY!!!”
Sounds like fun, right? 🙂
In real life, extending mercy to someone who has hurt you can be just as painful.
But, here’s the thing… at some point, God decided to do exactly that in each of our lives.
Use this lesson to remind teens that because God shows mercy to us, we should show mercy to others.
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON MERCY
Written by Tiffany Hollums
Bible: Micah 6:8
Bottom Line: Because God shows mercy to us, we should show mercy to others.
A small whiteboard and dry erase marker for each group
OPENING GAME: Word or WORD!?
Divide students into teams of 3-4 people.
Choose one student/leader to be the “judge”.
Say: Today’s game is a test of how well you know your words, but it could also be a test to see who can fool us into believing their definitions.
Each team will get a small whiteboard, a marker, and 3 minutes to come up with a definition for the word I give you.
You will then pass your whiteboards to the judge who will decide which definition is the correct one.
We will write down the correct definition on a marker board and also hand it to the judge.
If the definition of your word fools the judge, then your team gets a point.
If the judge chooses the correct answer, they will get a point.
Click here to find a list of interesting words to use with this game.
Here are some examples:
Bumfuzzle: confuse; perplex; fluster
Widdershins: counter clockwise
Collywobbles: a belly ache
Answer this question: I will know that I am a success when I…
Now, here’s a tough question: God will consider me a success when I…
Give the students a chance to share their answers to both of these questions.
Have you ever wondered what God wants you to do… who he wants you to be?
Would it surprise you to know that in the Bible, there is actually a passage that tells us exactly what God wants us to do?
Read Micah 6:8 (NKJV).
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
One of the words listed here is a word that you have probably heard, but the definition might be a bit more challenging.
Return to the group you were part of in the opening game, and on your whiteboard, write a definition for the word ‘mercy’.
Give each group a change to read their definition.
Then, read this definition:
English Oxford Dictionary defines mercy as “Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”
Think about it this way: Think of someone who has really hurt you.
Maybe they were once a friend, but they betrayed you.
Maybe someone who is spreading rumors about you.
Now, what would it look like to show mercy to them?
Mercy is a word that might be easy to say, but can be really, really difficult to live out.
So, why do you think God wants us to show mercy?
Ask another student to read Ephesians 2:4-5 (NKJV).
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”
God asks us to show mercy because WE have been shown mercy.
We were the ones who hurt God.
Turned our backs on his love, and what does God do?
He shows us mercy.
And then, he challenges us to do the same for those who hurt us.
This is what God wants us to do.
Think of someone in your life who has hurt you.
Someone you have a grudge against.
Someone who deserves you to treat them terribly.
Now, how could you show them mercy?
Showing mercy doesn’t mean that what the person did wasn’t wrong or hurtful.
Showing mercy simply means that we are showing compassion and love when it doesn’t make any sense to do that.
Why? Because that is what God has done for us.
In our world, there are lots of definitions that God wants us to rewrite.
In this world, if someone hurts you, they are an enemy, right?
Well, in God’s world, that person is someone who deserves mercy.
In our world, if someone says one thing and does another, they are a hypocrite or a fake.
But in God’s world, they are a child of God and he loves them.
Share a story from your life in which someone demonstrated mercy to you and another time that you showed someone mercy.
See, we all are in need of mercy.
And it would be really amazing if we didn’t receive what we deserve!
God wants us to be His people: the ones who love when love is not easy and, honestly, when love and compassion don’t make any sense.
Can you think of a situation in your life in which someone really deserves for you to blast them?
They have wronged you and they deserve to be called out.
Now, think of what it would look like to show them mercy.
How would they respond?
What would others think?
Because sometimes God shines the brightest when we change the definitions – when we act in a way that is exactly opposite of how the world expects.
See, what God requires of us is drastically different from what the world describes as being a success:, to be kind, to love justice and to show mercy.
Why do you think that God chooses these things?
Give the students a chance to share their thoughts.
God wants us to live in this world as He would, and honestly, when we live and walk like God would, it looks very different from what the world would define as ‘success’.
But this is what God wants for us.
This is how he will know that we truly ‘get’ what Jesus lived out in his life: kindness, mercy, and justice.
Just think for a moment what living like this will look like in your school.
In your home.
In the world.
Pretty different and amazing, right?
So get busy changing the definitions of how you are living your life and responding to the people around you and you will be amazed at how others might be changed as well.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Name a situation in your life when showing mercy seemed to not make sense.
- Why is showing mercy so difficult?
- Share a time when you have been shown mercy.
- How does it feel to be shown mercy?
- How can you show mercy to others this week?
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Written by Tiffany Hollums.
Tiffany has been in youth ministry for over 20 years and is currently serving as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Bee Creek UMC in Spicewood, TX.