Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)
So this week I have been sharing about the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation to our own spiritual walk. We must seek forgiveness from the LORD and reconciliation with Him in order to maintain relationship with Him, but we must also forgive others unconditionally and reconcile with them, whenever possible.
Granting forgiveness to others is commanded by Jesus and is linked with receiving forgiveness from God (Luke 6:37, Matthew 6:14-15 , Colossians 3:13). Forgiveness is releasing a person from their debt. Forgiveness does not require an apology from the other person because it occurs within our own hearts. If we hold onto unforgiveness, we place a stumbling block in our own way.
We examined the gift of reconciliation that was brought to mankind through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In truth, the LORD has been working to reconcile man to Himself from the very Beginning when He prophesied the ultimate triumph of the Christ over Satan (Genesis 3:13) and we saw last time how Grace was extended to people throughout the Old Testament and finally in the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. The LORD desires to be in relationship with us and has gone to extreme measures and shown extreme patience in order to rescue us from ourselves and provide us with an opportunity for reconciliation with Him.
Today, we are looking at how forgiveness and reconciliation play out in the family. I introduced the Cycle of Sin last time. It is based on the way that the people of Israel functioned throughout the Old Testament and especially in the Book of Judges. Click here to read a little more about the Sin Cycle of Judges. The Cycle of Sin can be expanded a bit and applied to our personal relationship with God in this way:
- We are in right relationship with God
- We sin and begin to follow our own way
- We experience separation from God and, frequently, negative consequences follow
- The Holy Spirit convicts us of our wrong
- We cry out to God, we ask for forgiveness, and we repent
- Our sin is forgiven and remembered no more
- We are restored to right relationship with God
This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (1 John 1).
So, having heard His Word, here is where we are compelled to do it. We see how the LORD functions with us and this is a model, a perfect model, for how to maintain good relationships with others; and it it imperative for us to teach this, to live this, with our kids and in our marriages. Let’s look at how to apply the lessons learned from the Book of Judges in a positive way within our families.
Reconciliation is the process we enter into when we see our wrong, seek forgiveness and return to a place of harmony in relationship with God or with others. Teaching our kids how to do this, demonstrates to them how to get along with others, but also how to maintain and grow in relationship with the LORD.
This cannot be emphasized enough: We, parents, are responsible for telling AND showing children who God is and how His Kingdom works. Our kids will do what we do, rather than what we say, if the two don’t match up. And we can distort their understanding of who God is and how His Kingdom works, if we do not take this responsibility seriously. Within the family we can show kids about how the LORD loves and forgives them by teaching them to seek reconciliation with Him and others when they have done wrong. This can be started at a very young age and would look like this:
- Our kids are having a “good” day and are in right relationship with us and others
- They sin and begin to follow their own way
- Their sin results in strife in relationships and requires intervention and discipline
- We remind them of the standard (the family rules AND the LORD’s way, as seen in scripture)
- They confess their sin, ask forgiveness and repent (turn around and go the other way)
- They are forgiven and their sins are remembered no more, hugs all around
- They are restored to right relationship with us and others
It is important to keep a few things in mind.
- Forgiveness of sin does not remove consequences. When our children ask for our forgiveness, we must model response of the Father, and forgive them willingly, but this does not mean that they do not experience the negative consequences for their behavior.
- Forgiveness does mean that we do not have the right to maintain any anger or hurt (i.e. no guilt trips).
- It is essential to direct our children to seek the LORD’s forgiveness as well – there is no true restoration and reconciliation without the LORD.
- Repentance is essential to growth – we must explain about the problem of repeating the same sin over and over. Maybe we can give examples from our own lives. They need to understand that each act of turning to Jehovah God should move us closer to Him and grow us spiritually.
- We must, as parents, become more interested in the state of their hearts than in their behavior. Behavior is merely a symptom of a heart condition.
This week let’s all try to intentionally implement the Cycle of Reconciliation in our parenting. Let me know how it goes for you. Try to think of walking your child through each one of the steps when there is transgression. We should all begin to see “behavior problems” as spiritual growth opportunities. If we are obedient to the Word, these “problems” can be appointments or opportunities, given by the LORD, to pour out teaching and grace upon our children. Because we want always to point to Him, it is important to convict and encourage with the Word.
Next time we will discuss more about the Cycle of Reconciliation in our families and in other relationships, keeping our focus on what the Word says about it. We will especially discuss the difference between being “sorry”, seeking forgiveness, and seeking reconciliation. They are not synonymous and people often confuse them which leads to more conflict.