Main Point of Discussion: Although our sins can be forgiven, there are always consequences for our actions.
Facts to Know Before the Discussion:
- The discussion will focus on Ben Roethlisberger, the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2010-11 season for sexual assault allegations.
- Roethlisberger was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004.
- He earned the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2004.
- In Super Bowl 43 he led his team down the field in the closing minutes and threw the game-winning touchdown with only 32 seconds left.
- He recently signed a $100 million contract extension with the Steelers.
- Article concerning accusation: http://www.tmz.com/2010/03/05/ben-roethlisberger-accused-of-sexual-assault/
- Article concerning punishment: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/Report-Roethlisberger-to-be-suspended-four-to-s?urn=nfl,235656
- Article concerning his return to league (and to God): http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_697360.html
- Article concerning his engagement: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=6303407
Introducing the Discussion:
I want to share with you about the quarterback for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger. Just in case you’re not a fan of professional football or of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Roethlisberger was suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2010-11 season because of sexual assault allegations.
(Read factoids from above bullet list).
When I read some of those stats, I think, Man, this guy has it made! But recently Ben has found himself in the news for all the wrong reasons (read articles—or portions of them—to your students as it suits your needs).
Big Ben made some pretty huge mistakes in judgment (and may have even done what he was accused of). Since then it seems as though he’s turned his life around, gotten closer to God, and now is engaged. Still, we should pray for Ben and his family (and for the women who’ve accused him) rather than condemn Ben. His situation should remind us that we’re all vulnerable to sinful behavior, and we all need God in our lives—often to save us from ourselves. Ben got suspended for his behavior—and he’s fortunate that’s all he got!
No matter how talented Roethlisberger is on the field, off-field accusations landed Big Ben in Big Trouble! Ben faced the reality that Christians have known for 2,000 years: Although ALL sin can be forgiven…it always carries consequences. Let’s talk about that some more.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, let’s all take a moment to share our names and the longest period of time you’ve been grounded by your parents. Just the length of time…not what you did to deserve the punishment.
- ASK A FEW: OK now, who would like to share why you were grounded? Anybody brave enough?
- ASK A FEW: Do you believe your punishment was fair? Why or why not? (Leaders: Allow students to share but be careful this doesn’t turn into a parent-bashing session or take too much time.)
- ASK A FEW: Everybody answer this question: Do you believe athletes are punished less severely than everybody else?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think that Big Ben’s punishment is fair? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think God’s attitude toward Ben is right now?
Now that we’ve talked about the big troubles that Big Ben has found himself in, let’s read a story about another big shot who got into big trouble.
Read the following passage:
2 Samuel 11:1-27
1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”
6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.
10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”
11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”
12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.
14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”
22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”
25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.
Read the following passage from the Bible:
2 Samuel 12:1-23
1 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. 2 The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. 3 The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. 4 One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”
5 David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! 6 He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.
11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”
13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. 14 Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the Lord by doing this, your child will die.”
15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.
18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”
19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.
21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.” 22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”
Here we’ve spent a lot of time talking about sin. We talked about how God wants to forgive our sin, but that sin also has consequences.
This story from David’s life is a famous one. He wrecks so much of what God wanted to do in his life because David chose to sin instead of obey God. And when David sinned…David SINNED with capital letters! He was a liar, an adulterer, and a murderer!
But God forgave him anyway. And maybe that forgiveness had a lot to do with a passage we didn’t read. Yeah, you heard the “story” of King David tonight, but you haven’t heard the “prayer” of King David yet. So let me share with you right now the prayer that David prayed RIGHT AFTER he sinned so terribly. It comes from Psalm 51.
Read the following passage from the Bible:
- Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Optional: (Leader: If time permits, this would be a great time to share a personal story of a sin you confessed to God and repented of—yet you suffered consequences from your sin, even with God’s forgiveness. Because that’s real life!)
I know that everyone in this room – myself included – has sinned. We all need to ask God to forgive us and clean up all the junk. But we also need to ask God to help us make wise decisions, because although our sins can be forgiven, there are always consequences for our actions.
Let’s also remember that we need to be kept accountable to God by our Christian brothers and sisters. We need people in our lives who know us inside and out and have the freedom to call us on the carpet when we turn from God. We need these people to offer us grace and love, too—and we need to do the same for them.
(Give your students time to confess their sins to God.)
Close in Prayer
Written by Todd Pearage
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.