RELATED VERSE: AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS
A Letter to Read/Use As A Guide With Your Children
I want you to be prepared for two unavoidable circumstances you will face all throughout your lifetime: One, be prepared to be “wronged,” and two, be prepared to forgive.
Concerning being wronged: Children, because you live among sinners, you will be sinned against— sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways; sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. Just be prepared, not surprised.
Now, how are you to deal with a “slap in the face,” a “stab in the back,” a “push that takes the breath out of you?” Let me direct you to Jesus. One thing He always did when He walked on this earth was to point out the sin to the sinner. He was very effective and clear in calling black “black,” and white “white.” Remember he turned the money changers’ tables over in the temple because of their abuse of His Father’s house of prayer? And countless times He called the scribes and Pharisees of that day exactly what they were– -blind men, hypocrites, and a brood of vipers. He gave them these names because they were rejecting the very God that they proclaimed to love and serve! Do you see what I’m saying, children? Jesus went to the sinners, pointed out their sin, and then gave them the opportunity to repent of it, or continue in it. And then, He walked away in peace. That’s what you need to do, sweet ones. If (or I should say “when”) somebody has hurt you, go to him and confront him with the issue. (I would recommend praying about what to call him or her, or them: a “brood of vipers” is pretty strong! Remember, Jesus says, your gentleness will make you great. So, I am sure everything Jesus did and said to each sinner was done in a wonderful way, which resulted in an invitation. His goal was to “lure” them into repentance.) You, children, are to do the same. Let the one who has wronged you know how this particular sin has affected you. They may not even be aware they have hurt you. This will then put the “ball in their court,” and that’s where you need to leave it. You, too, walk away in peace as Jesus did. Now, they may humbly ask you for forgiveness; but, then again, they may not. So, what do you do if they don’t say they are sorry? Be prepared to forgive them anyway.
Concerning forgiveness: Let me, again, point you to Your Savior. Realize the topic of forgiveness is the first thing Jesus discusses after He teaches His disciples how to pray. It is extremely important to Him. Let me just give you a few of His basic principles concerning this matter:
1. Jesus said, “If you don’t forgive, your Father won’t forgive you” (from Matt 6:15). Remember I asked if you wanted to be clean and white? Well, if you do, then Jesus asks you to offer this same freedom to the one who has done you wrong. Don’t expect to experience God’s forgiveness if you can’t give it. Do expect a hard and bitter heart, an angry mind, and a discontented soul. All of this is tied up in un-forgiveness. And then, you can also expect this infectious attitude to fester into all other relationships! Is holding on to this un-forgiveness really worth it, dear ones? The answer is NO! However, Satan would beg to differ. Choose to forgive, children, choose to forgive—seventy times seven. Choose to forgive.
2. Jesus went even one step further in forgiveness. He said: “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44). Wow, what a difficult command! But, children, you are not to worry about “pay-back time.” God, Himself, will deal with the one who has wronged you. (However, again realize this—He will always do it in a way that is best for the sinner to be exposed to the invitation of the cross). He will extend mercy to all who cry “mercy” from a truly repentant heart. If you don’t let go of the vengeance, you are not allowing God to operate in His mighty way. You, then, are still captive to a bitter unforgiving heart, while your wrongdoer runs free, possible continuing to sin against you and others. Think about this: Would you choose to have your wrong-doer be under the judgment of the one true God, Creator of the universe, or under the judgment of a human being who is likened to “the dust of the earth?” Move out of the judgment seat, and let God be who He says He is! Obey Him, and love your enemy. (Let me stress to you here, sweet ones, sometimes your “enemy” happens to be your Christian brother or sister, and even your future spouse. Be ready for this. Also, realize these “enemies” are sometimes the hardest to forgive.) Jesus says to feed them, give them your shirt, turn the other cheek, and walk that second mile. Let the one who has done you wrong question your forgiveness, not revel in your unforgiveness. May you and God be on the same side, having the same goal: To bring your enemies to their knees, in order to worship Him, right alongside of you.
3. Jesus also tells you to “pray for your enemies.” Children, I want you to turn all your thoughts of anger, frustration, and even hatred towards your enemy into loving prayer for that person. Pray for reconciliation, pray for peace, but most importantly, pray for their salvation. Remember, saving their soul is the big picture! May you pray for them so much, you begin to truly want them to know the Savior of their sin-covered heart. And if the person who has wronged you, is already a Christian, pray this situation will enlighten them, humble them, and cause them to grow in Christ. You may very well be the particular vessel that God has chosen to use in working out your “enemy’s” salvation or spiritual growth. Don’t turn their wrong-doing into a frivolous ant-war while the hand of the King of kings is at work behind the whole thing. Let go of unforgiveness, children; the battle was never yours to fight standing up, only kneeling down. Pray God will work mightily through the forgiveness you, by His grace, are offering your “enemy.”
Do know this, sweet ones: God does have the ability to heap burning coals on the head of your enemy, if that’s what you think might help you through this situation. But, read His word and see how it’s done: by choosing to forgive them, by choosing to love them, by choosing to pray for them, and by choosing to entrust the situation to God alone. If you let go of your grip (which you might have around their neck), He promises to give you the freedom of His peace in your heart. Then, your wrong-doer will enter into none other than the hands of almighty God, the righteous Judge and merciful Father.
Jesus said, Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). God is good, dear ones. Overcome your wrong-doer with Him. He is your only hope, your only answer.
I love you
Teaching Tools/Activities For Your Children
- Talk with your children individually about any situation in which they may be hurting because of a broken friendship (be aware they may bring up something you may have said or done to hurt them—be ready, be humble).
- Go through the steps in the letter above: approach the person, wait for a response, forgive and love that person through Christ, no matter what the response. Finally, commit to pray for that person on a daily basis to know the love of Christ.
- Over time, discuss any kind of heart change concerning your child or the “wrongdoer” as a result of prayer. Praise God together for taking this situation out of their hands and putting it into His own.
A Prayer To Pray Over Your Children
Dear Heavenly Father,
Again and again, I want to thank You for the wonderful opportunity of being completely forgiven of our sins. Thank You, Jesus, for taking our place on the cross, even while we were Your enemies! What an incredible gift is it to be able to stand before Your holy throne, guiltless and unashamed, sanctified and free.
O God, please continue to work in the hearts of my children as they seek You. May they understand, You command them to be like You, forgiving others as You have forgiven them. I pray they would show mercy, as You have shown mercy. I pray they will give grace, as you have given grace. I pray they will love their enemies, as You have loved—unconditionally, every single soul that nailed You to the cross.
Thank You, dear Jesus, for not holding grudges, and for not keeping a record of our wrongs. Thank You for not treating us as our sins deserve! Help my children to see that the chosen path of un-forgive-ness will only lead to a bitter and hardened heart—cold, dark, and even dead to what You would have them to do with their lives. May they let go of the wrong that was done to them and put it into Your hands, trusting You, dear Lord, to deal with it in Your mighty way, for You see and know all things.
And Lord, when my children choose, by Your strength, to forgive, to love, and to pray for the one who has hurt them, I ask You to, then, bless their hearts, abundantly, with Your great peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). May they relinquish this sin, and the sinner, into the hands of the One who came to serve.
Scripture references in letter:
Matt. 21:12-14; Luke 19:1-10; Matt. 5:23-24; Luke 7:36-50; Matt.18:21, 22-35; Luke 6:35-36; Matt. 9:9-13; Luke 6:27-31; Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:17-21
Scripture references in prayer:
Rom. 5:6, 10: Col. 3:12-13; Luke 6:36; Ps. 86:5, 15