What you will need: A Bible or your Bible app, a notebook, pen, and highlighter. The verses highlighted below are linked so that you can easily access them during your study time.
1. Would you say you have a great, “I got your back” relationship with at least one person? Why or why not? What do you think is your biggest obstacle to creating one or more relationships like this?
2. Read Proverbs 27:17 and Galatians 6:1. What does “iron sharpening iron” have to do with the topic in Galatians? Why is gentleness part of sharpening? Can you see yourself as both parties in the Galatians verse?
3. Did the message point, “Don’t stand by” encourage you or scare you? Why? What about the phrase, “Let people around you know, ‘I am here’? Consider your next steps in any relationship God brings to mind.
4. “Restoration doesn’t start with being like Jesus but being around Jesus.” What does this mean to you? What action steps are we encouraged to take as we step into the reconciliation process?
5. “Invite others to sharpen you.” Read Proverbs 27:5-6. Have you ever experienced a rebuke from a friend? Compare that to being “stabbed in the back.” Have you been used by God to wound, then heal a friend?
6. Final Thought: Review the challenges or personal action steps you discovered during the study. Pray together specifically for the focus and courage to follow through on those things.
7. Read Philemon 1:1-5. Paul clearly cares for Philemon and wants to encourage him in his faith. Answer the following questions:
- Do you think that most relationships look like this? Why or why not?
- If we want friends like that, we need to be friends like that. What principles do you see in these verses that help us be this kind of friend? How could you apply these principles?
8. Read Philemon 1:6. This verse contains a very specific prayer that Paul has for Philemon.
- What is Paul saying? Try rephrasing it. Why do you think he is specifically pointing this out?
- How could having this same desire for your close friend change your relationship?
9. Read Philemon 1:7. Relationships can be a great source of joy, but also of stress. Here we see that Paul gets “much joy and comfort” because of Philemon.
- Look carefully at the wording of the verse. What is it about Philemon that gives Paul this joy and comfort?
- Do you derive joy and comfort from seeing your friends refresh others? In your experience, how does this change a relationship? Discuss this idea and what you can do to embrace it.
10. Read Philemon 1:8-9. Paul explains his desire here to appeal rather than to command obedience. In the following questions, explore the difference between these two techniques.
- How is the relational impact different when you use a command versus an appeal? Consider what Paul means when he says, “For love’s sake.”
- Do you know someone to whom you need to make an appeal? Discuss why and what you think you can do in a loving way.