We have been discussing The Cycle of Reconciliation, the process of seeking restoration of relationship, which has been outlined in the Bible. Please stay with me here, even if you don’t have kids or your kids are already grown and out of the house. These principles are universal and you can, and should, apply them to all your relationships. In the family, it should look something like this:
- We are having a “good” day and are enjoying fellowship with God and with others
- We sin and begin to follow our own way
- The sin brings strife into relationships and requires intervention and discipline
- We are reminded of the standard (the family rules AND the LORD’s way, as seen in scripture)
- We confess our sin, to the other person(s) and to God, ask forgiveness and repent (turn around and go the other way)
- We are forgiven and our sins are remembered no more, hugs all around
- We are restored to right relationship with God and with others
Today, I want to clarify an important point. Many of us sell reconciliation short by giving an apology. For years parents and teachers have corrected quarreling children with this statement, “Now, say you’re sorry.” Most of us were raised this way and are passing this on to our children. We want them to say they are sorry if they have wronged someone. It’s what we want from our spouses and friends too, when we disagree. Or is it?
What does it mean to be sorry? Being sorry is a feeling. Of course, being sorry is important because you cannot move to any sort of reconciliation if you feel no remorse, no sorrow over having done wrong. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
But saying “I’m sorry” is the first step rather than the ending point.
“Sorry” is a statement of how you are feeling. “I feel sorrow, I feel remorse, I feel regret.” When you think about it, you might as well be saying, “I feel hungry, I feel hot, I feel tired.” A statement of your feelings is still about you. Our culture is all about the feelings. Feelings rule the roost. But Christianity tells us to move beyond our feelings and to do what is right.
What is missing is forgiveness and repentance, which lead to real reconciliation. Reconciliation should be our end goal when there are relationship difficulties. The whole of Scripture doesn’t call us to be sorry; it call us to seek forgiveness and repent; it calls us to forgive and extend grace and mercy.
- “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14).
- “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19-21).
- “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
We teach our kids to potty on the potty, to tie their shoes, to write their names and to read. These things are all important. But teaching our kids how to seek reconciliation with God and man has eternal significance. Instructing our kids in how to extend grace and forgiveness brings peace to their lives, both now and forever.
We must tell them the Truth. We must show them the Way. We are teaching our kids about reconciliation whether we intend to or not. We set expectations for them, but do our goals match up with what Scripture teaches? They listen to what we say and they watch what we do in our own lives. We must give them God’s message accurately. Learning firsthand about forgiveness helps us all to know God in a real way.
How to teach our kids is another post…in fact more than one…people have written books on this subject! We will definitely be dealing with that soon. For now, keep in mind that every squabble, every argument, every transgression is a teachable moment and an opportunity to make an eternal difference. Doing this, Christ’s way, will forever change our hearts.