The Importance Of Receiving Forgiveness
There are many reasons to focus on teaching forgiveness. One of which is learning how to forgive enables your child to have a successful marriage. It helps your child avoid a life filled with bitterness and resentment. As they learn the cost of forgiveness it helps them to understand what it meant for God to forgives them.
1 John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” A major component to any love relationship is giving and receiving forgiveness, parent/child, spouses and God to us. Make sure you are including this important training in your parenting.
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When Your Child Is Hurt
This may be one of the most if not the most difficult thing about being a parent, watching your child hurt. Whether it is physically hurt, being sick or emotionally hurting it pains us to see. Many of us would do anything to carry that burden for our child. So what can we do when our child is hurt? One of the first places we can teach forgiveness is in the home. Siblings are great practice for many areas of life, forgiveness definitely being one. Teaching siblings the choice of forgiveness can start very early when they inevitably hurt each other. We start by acknowledging the incident and the pain. Then have one sibling ask for forgiveness and the other give it. This may seem simple but we are instilling this concept early for when the bigger hurts come later on. It needs to be the same process if they are hurt by a peer. Talk through with your child by acknowledging their pain. It is easy to blow off when a teen brings up a social situation but we need to use every situation to practice forgiveness in the heart of our child. When dealing with a bully we don’t want our child to be a doormat but Christ would not have us teach retaliation either. Click here for our series on dealing with bullies. Spend time listening to your children and allowing them to emote, offering forgiveness seems easier if you have support.
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What Forgiveness Is Not
Forgiveness is not a feeling, much like love. It is a choice, an action or a journey; forgiveness is something we live. Depending on the level of wound, forgiveness may be something that we must choose daily for our lifetime. Jesus reminds us, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.” (Matthew 5:43-47)
Forgiveness is not understood by the world around us. The world around us seeks revenge when they are wronged. One of the biggest evidences to those around us of God’s work in our heart is forgiveness. Choose a lifestyle of forgiveness, for the sake of the eyes watching, both big and small.
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Forgiveness Is Not Natural, It’s A Discipline
Forgiveness is a significant part of any relationship, but some areas of forgiveness don’t even seem natural, especially when it’s forgiving someone who has hurt us deeply. We discussed yesterday how our example, especially in this area, is critical. What do my children see when they observe my attitudes and actions towards people who have wounded me? There are several quotes that apply here and are good for us to keep in mind. “Forgiveness is like letting a prisoner go free only to realize the prisoner was me.” And John Elderidge said, “Not forgiving a person for what they have done to you is like drinking poison expecting the other person to get poisoned.”
The Bible gives us a key in working through the process of forgiveness. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” So the idea is when an angry or bitter thought pops into your head you immediately dismiss it and force yourself to think of a positive, better yet to pray for the person. How we deal with the issue of forgiveness in our own lives is probably how our children will. We must be sure to model it well.
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Why It’s Important To Teach
Forgiveness is not something that is focused on much in today’s society. We want our children to stick up for themselves, to be on top of the “pecking order”. It’s not a very popular idea to turn the other cheek or “love your enemies.” We unfortunately can see the emotional effects of this attitude in the world around us. We live in a world of revenge, anger, bitterness and road rage. Our anger bubbles so close to the surface that someone cuts us off or steps in front of us in the grocery store line and we are ready to “let them have it”. Unfortunately, this attitude is being observed by our children. Our example is probably one of the most important things in training our children. So our question for today is are we teaching our children to forgiveness even in these small instances so they are prepared for when the big offenses happen?
We are forgiven by God so we can offer forgiveness to others. Scriptures go so far to say that the level of forgiveness we offer is the level we will be given. We must keep Christ as our example. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He even took it a step further, while He was on the cross in His agony He beseeched His Father to forgive us. Wow, what a high calling we have to live this out for our children. Choose to teach forgiveness even in the small instances, through your example.
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