Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. In international politics, the phrase “red line” refers to an action taken by a nation that requires other nations to treat it as an enemy. What examples of a political “red line” can you think of? What actions by a nation, in your opinion, should never be simply ignored?
2. Do you have any “red lines” when it comes to your relationships? What actions by another person would cause you to permanently sever ties with that person?
Read Matthew 18:21-27.
1. In verse 22, the language is unclear as to whether it should be translated “seventy-seven times” or “seventy times seven.” Does it matter? If Jesus is not referring to an exact number, what does he mean?
2. In simplifying this parable, some have referred to the servant’s debt as being millions of dollars. Knowing that one talent was about the equivalent of 20 years’ salary, why does referring to ten thousand talents as millions of dollars understate that debt?
3. Jesus clearly intended us to understand that this ten-thousand-talent debt refers to the magnitude of our offenses against God. How does this challenge a typical view of sin and how someone makes up for it?
Read Matthew 18:28-30.
4. In simplifying this parable, some have referred to the second servant’s debt as being a few pennies or another insignificant amount. Knowing that the actual debt was about one third of an annual salary, is it fair to say that the amount of debt was insignificant? How quick would you be to write off a debt of one third of your annual salary?
5. Jesus obviously intended us to contrast our offenses against God to the offenses of others against us. What are some implications of doing this? Why are we often reluctant to forgive others?
Read Matthew 18:31-35.
6. If the core of our message is that people are sinners who need God’s forgiveness, how does our showing grace to others support that message? What are some things Christian people do that lead other people to view believers as judgmental rather than forgiving?
7. Is it time to rethink the “red lines” of our relationships? Can you think of a recent relationship you’ve had that has gone bad? What can you do to repair that relationship?