Teaching kids to forgive.

Ray Stedman, noted pastor and Biblical expositor said, “Forgiveness, of course, is the virtue we most enjoy, and least employ, in our Christian experience. We all love to be forgiven – we expect it, and want it. But we find it a struggle to forgive; we resist it, and refuse oftentimes to do it.”

Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who survived a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust, said, “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness is a foundational Bible truth. Why is forgiveness important? The best answer is because Jesus commanded us to forgive others. Scripture clearly communicates that if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-16).

Many times we fail to teach children about the importance of forgiveness. Most kids don’t know about Jesus’ method to restore relationships. The Lord tells us in Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”

When someone wrongs us, we often do the opposite of what Jesus commands. We turn away in hatred or resentment, seek revenge, or engage in gossip by going to others about the situation rather than following God’s commands. Instead, we should go to that person first, regardless how difficult that may be. Then we should forgive that person as often as he or she needs it (Matthew 18:21-22). This will create a healthy atmosphere for restoring relationships. We must follow God’s prescribed process if we desire to receive His fullest blessings.

Kids need forgiveness

(Isaiah 55:6-7; Psalm 103:10-12; Ephesians 4:31-32)

The Situation

Kids declare, “I’ll never forgive you for that!” They learn to hold grudges and to get revenge. This practice begins a downward spiral that leads to bitterness, bondage, and even health-related issues. But forgiveness leads to freedom. It is foundational to the Christian faith.

The Solution

Through Christ’s death, Christ followers are beneficiaries of God’s ultimate forgiveness. He has forgiven us thousands of times! God obligates His children to model His own unlimited capacity to forgive—even with people who are truly difficult. His example to us demands nothing less!

What You Can Do

Practice repentance and forgiveness. Teach your children that “repent” means to reverse directions, to turn away from one thing and to turn toward another. Repentance requires genuine sorrow for your sin against God. It includes an inward change of attitude and an outward change of action. Forgive one another as freely as God has forgiven you.

As we teach and model God’s forgiveness, be mindful of the words of Lehman Strauss, well-known Bible teacher and writer, “We cannot be right with God when we are wrong with others.”

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