This week was the last week of our “Forgiveness” theme in VictoryKids and I’m reflecting on how this week has really reminded me of how important lessons of forgiveness are for both our kids and us.
Forgiveness is the crux of Christianity. It is because God has forgiven us that we have the power to forgive others. The definition of forgiveness according to Webster: “is to give up resentment of or claim to requital.” We know that the requital (or compensation) for our sins/wrongdoings against God is death. Death would be the payback for all our wrongs, but through Jesus, God has forgiven us and he doesn’t hold it against us when we ask him to forgive us. Yikes. My wrongdoings against God are big and daily.
However, why is it so easy for us to withhold forgiveness from others? In the case of kids, it’s super easy for them to seek revenge. Sunday I heard so many stories in my LifeGroup of “he broke my toy, so I broke his” or “she hit me, so I hit her back.” In the case of adults, I think we seek requital through gossip, withholding kindness or generosity, and, sometimes, doing evil things. Adults often let our withholding of forgiveness fester and from that, bitterness grows in our hearts. Ultimately, that brings death to our souls. The Word says, “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 6:14-15).
Yeah – this is some SERIOUS stuff with eternal implications. I think we miss something though that would makes forgiveness make more sense. I like to call it “forgiveness with boundaries.” When we sin and ask for grace, Jesus tells us that we are forgiven, but also tacks on “go and sin no more.” Yes, our sin isn’t held against us. Yes, He isn’t going to seek repayment or revenge, BUT He is clearly instructing us to not do it again. He is setting up a boundary. We are instructed not to hurt him again.
When I asked kids for the definition of forgiveness on Sunday, every service I heard, “It’s when I say you did this to me, but it’s okay.” Every time a kid said that I felt the Spirit heavy on my soul and He was shouting, “NO.” The kids provided me the opportunity to affirm that forgiveness does NOT mean what someone did was okay and forgiveness is not permission to do it again. People often feel like if they forgive someone than they are becoming a doormat. Not at all, forgiveness with boundaries means that I am not going to seek to get even for the sin you’ve committed against me, however, what you did was wrong and I do not give you permission to do it again.
Light bulbs were going off and kids eyes lit up when they hear this. Forgiveness made more sense. Jesus doesn’t want us to get hurt. He just knows that withholding forgiveness brings toxicity to our souls and so we don’t seek to repay evil with evil because that keeps our souls clean.
In no way am I claiming forgiveness is easy, but it is a conscience choice. When I feel like I can’t make that choice, I just say to Jesus, “Do Your thing Lord. Help my heart make the right choice.”
If you’re looking for some more help, Crosswalk
had a great article that included a short prayer for forgiveness of others:
Dear Lord, I thank You for the power of forgiveness, and I choose to forgive everyone who has hurt me. Help me set [name anyone who has offended you] free and release them to You [Romans 12:19
]. Help me bless those who have hurt me [Romans 12:14
]. Help me walk in righteousness, peace, and joy, demonstrating Your life here on earth. I choose to be kind and compassionate, forgiving others, just as You forgave me [Ephesians 4:32
]. In Jesus’ name, amen.
– Debbie Przybylski