The Habit of Forgiveness

Yesterday, my teenager and I had a very interesting conversation. And it wasn’t about cartoons.J Since my kids were little I have required them to ask each other for forgiveness and speak words of forgiveness to each other. I heard this from a speaker once and thought it was a great way to teach kids about forgiveness. So, when one child offends, they have to apologize to the other by stating what they did wrong and ask for forgiveness. The offended child has to respond with “I forgive you”. However, they don’t have to forgive if they are not ready to. But when they are ready, they must forgive.

My son and I talked about why I required this practice of them. You see, it has caused them to give and receive forgiveness more easily. It is a truly humbling act to admit your wrongdoing and request forgiveness. You are putting yourself out there for rejection. And you are acknowledging you have sinned. At the same time, when someone asks you for forgiveness, it not only makes it easier to forgive, but it makes you feel valued by the offender. If you didn’t matter, then the offender wouldn’t bother. So, this has been the practice in our home. The thing that stuck out to me was that my son had pointed out that there have been a few times I have had to ask for his forgiveness. I didn’t even think about that until he brought it up. It’s obviously something that meant a lot to him. And being the prideful person that I am, I can honestly say there are probably many times that I should have asked for forgiveness, but haven’t. I’m glad he remembers the times I have.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'” (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV)

Forgiveness was something I have had to learn as an adult. Learning to change your actions after you have done things a certain way all of you life is hard. It takes time. It takes practice. So over the past 21 years of walking with Jesus, I have had to learn how to forgive from my heart because God doesn’t let these things go. He keeps on convicting until your heart is where it should be. Before Christ, my life was filled with condemnation and unforgiveness. I felt justified in holding a grudge. I felt self-righteous in putting others down (and sometimes still do). However, I see that the Lord now holds my heart in His hands molding me to be more gracious. This is not an easy task but my Lord is a persistent One. My hope is that by requiring my children to ask for and impart forgiveness, they will have an easier time of it as they grow older. Hopefully, this will be a good pattern in their lives.

With it still being the first month of the New Year, some resolutions have not been broken yet. New habits are still being formed. Old ones are being pushed aside. My prayer is that my children won’t have to work so hard to forgive when they are my age. I pray they will make forgiveness a habit.

Thank you Lord for always forgiving me not matter how many times I have to ask.

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