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To Forgive or Not?

Forgiveness matters

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon the importance of forgiveness.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:

    – a bee on a flower, available at:
    – a wasp, available at:
    – a park bench, available at:

  • You will need to be prepared to tell the story of the boy and wasp found in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4. You may wish to arrange for some children to perform a short drama of the story.

  • You will also need to have the word ‘unforgiveness’ ready to display so that everyone can see it.


  1. Show the images of the bee and the wasp.

    Ask the children whether they know the differences between bees and wasps.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Explain that:

    – bees tend to appear fuzzier with fuller bodies
    – wasps tend to be thinner with thinner legs
    – wasps tend to appear shinier
    – bees are called pollinators; they only eat plant pollen and nectar
    – wasps are called predators because they eat other insects
    – bees are less aggressive than wasps
    – some bees (honey bees) die soon after they have stung someone
    – wasps live in papery nests made of chewed up wood and saliva
    – bees live in hives made from wax
    – when in flight, a bee’s legs are not visible, whereas wasps have two thin legs that are visible when they fly

  3. Ask the children if they have ever been stung by a wasp or a bee.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  4. Show the image of the park bench.

    Tell the following story.

    The Boy and the Wasp
    One day, a little boy was sitting on a park bench. He was obviously in pain: his eyes were all screwed up and tears were pouring down his face. Under his breath, he was muttering, ‘Ouch! It hurts . . . ow . . .”
    A woman who was walking past came to sit with him and asked gently, ‘What’s the matter?’
    The little boy answered between gritted teeth, ‘I’m sitting on a wasp!’
    The woman looked rather puzzled and asked, ‘Well, why don’t you get up?’
    Clenching his teeth, the boy replied, ‘Because I figure if I stay here, I’m hurting the wasp more than the wasp is hurting me!’

  5. Show the word ‘unforgiveness’.

    Explain that the little boy was putting up with the ongoing pain of the wasp’s sharp sting because he thought that somehow, he could pay the wasp back by sitting on it. How silly! Explain that unforgiveness is like that. When we hold a grudge or keep feeling angry towards someone who has done something to us, it can sometimes hurt us more than it hurts the person who did something wrong. In the story, the boy could have got off the bench and over time, the pain would have gone away. However, he continued to sit on the wasp, and the wasp continued to sting him.

  6. Ask the children if they can think of a time when not forgiving someone could hurt us.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Possible examples could include the following.

    – A friend is unkind to us, so we decide that we will never play with them again. However, doing this might make us feel lonely and we might lose a close friendship. It would have been better to sort out the problem and forgive.
    – Someone at a sports club says that we’re not very good at that sport, so we decide never to play it again. By doing this, we end up never getting any better at that sport and lose the chance to play. We would have been better off talking to the person, sorting it out and forgiving them. Then, we could continue to enjoy the sport and might even end up friends with the other person.

  7. Tell the children: ‘Unforgiveness often hurts the person who will not forgive more than the person who did something wrong in the first place.’

    Ask the children to think about what that statement means.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  8. Point out that forgiving people is not always easy. Sometimes, we need help to put relationships right. Encourage the children to speak to a member of staff if they feel that they need some help with this.

Time for reflection

Ask the children, ‘Has anyone done something to annoy us or hurt us?’

Do we still have a grudge against someone, even after a long period of time?

Do we need to remember the story that we heard about the boy and the wasp? Do we need to stop sitting on our unforgiveness and nursing our anger?

Do we need to forgive?

Dear God,
You understand all about unforgiveness and what it does to people.
You sent Jesus to show us that we needed forgiveness.
Thank you for forgiving us when we get things wrong.
Please help us to forgive others.

Publication date: August 2018   (Vol.20 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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