Is Teaching to Ask for Forgiveness Really a Big Deal?
When is the last time you’ve asked someone’s forgiveness? Isn’t it so powerful! Why is it so hard for us to get to that point or even want to go to that point? Seth tackles the benefits of us doing just that.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
When I first came to camp I was challenged to ask for forgiveness when I had sinned against someone. This was a foreign idea at the time.
It took on a whole new, challenging level when I married four years later. The most common piece of marital advice I give now is to ask for forgiveness early and often.
Then I had children. (And like eating, sleeping and relaxing) asking for forgiveness became even harder in parenthood (the number of times I need to seek forgiveness from my children for my outbursts in anger or unkind words is simply staggering and embarrassing).
What has been most profound about my journey through forgiveness is not the difficulty of it nor the healing it has brought my marriage or relationships with my children. It is the transformation that has taken place in my relationship with the Lord.
That begs the question: why is forgiveness (the act of it, the language of it, and the practice of it) so important?
- Forgiveness is at the core of the gospel. Forgiveness entails a debt or punishment being paid. When it comes to sin, we admit to God our wrong doing and ask Him to forgive us based on His love for us shown in the sacrifice of Jesus. We should reinforce the gospel in our homes by making forgiveness and the seeking of forgiveness a common occurrence, because our God has forgiven us more then we could ever repay, and we should forgive others accordingly (Matt 18:21-35).
- God does not withhold forgiveness. God will forgive us not because of what we do or don’t do, but because of who He is, “faithful and just” (1 John 1:9). We get to the opportunity as parents to display forgiveness by teaching and modeling it as God does. (Check out the character traits that accompany forgiveness Paul points out in Ephesians 4:32: kind and compassionate)
- Forgiveness is an action not a feeling. Forgiveness is something we must exemplify as parents. We need to teach our children what it looks like to forgive. This is done by saying, “Will you forgive me?” Not just saying, “I’m sorry.” The latter is just admitting a feeling, not admitting guilt (a mentor encouraged my wife and I to start teaching our children to ask forgiveness before they could even speak so we taught them sign language for forgive, and it has been very valuable).
When we teach our children the importance of forgiveness, we are teaching them the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and remembering the forgiveness God has offered us because of who He is, certainly not because of what we deserve or don’t deserve.
What are the things that make asking for forgiveness most difficult? When was the last time you asked someone for forgiveness and how did it go?