Johnny hits his little brother Tommy. You tell Johnny it’s wrong and that he needs to apologize.
Understanding his mistake, Johnny says, “I’ m sorry I hit you, Tommy. It was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”
Tommy replies, “I forgive you.”
But what does that mean? What does forgiveness really look like?
Forgiveness means, “I will not talk badly about you.”
Proverbs 10:18 says, “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.”
We can teach our kids to pray, “ Lord, thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for speaking life over me and believing the best in me. Help me to speak life over others, even when I have been hurt. “
Forgiveness means, “I will not think badly about you.”
Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “casting down arguements and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (NKJV)
Let’s face it, when someone hurts us, it’s not easy to think good thoughts about the person. But that’s exactly what God chooses to do with us. Psalm 139 tells us that God’s thoughts toward us are precious, and there are more of them than we can even count. This is how God wants us to think about other people, even the ones who have hurt us.
We can teach our kids how to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Teach them to pray whenever a hurt or angry thought comes to mind: “Lord, help me to think good thoughts about this person. Every time a bad thought comes, help me immediately speak out a blessing upon that person.”
Forgiveness means, “I will love you as I love myself.”
Mark 12:31 says, “ ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
We can teach our kids to go to the Lord and pray, “Teach me to love this person as you do. Show me how to pray for him. Help me to pray for him just as I would pray for myself.”
Forgiveness means, “I will not bring up the incident again.”
Our Heavenly Father has separated our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He has blotted out our transgressions and will remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12).
Micah 7:19 says, “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquites. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (NKJV)
We can teach our kids to pray, “Lord, help me forget this incident, just as you have forgiven my sins. Remind me that you cast my sin into the depths of the ocean, and teach me to also cast this memory into the depths of the sea and remember this hurt no more.”
Mark 11:25 reminds us, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
I have a very dear friend who has a beautiful habit that I have also made a habit in my home. She lays in bed at night and prays, “Lord, clean out my heart and make it pure. Cleanse me of any thoughts, words or deeds that have been sinful today. Bring to remembrance anything I need to repent of at this moment. Reveal to me any offenses deep in my heart. Make me clean.”
Holding on to an offensive, gives the enemy a foothold in our lives, and as we disciple our kids, we can teach them how to truly forgive and allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely through their cleansed hearts.