We Forgive

Forgiveness is fascinating. Volumes of books have been written and we still do not fully understand the depth of it’s power nor breadth of it’s reach. Never underestimate the power of Forgiveness within a family.

Biblically speaking, here are the basics:

  • Forgiveness is a free gift purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ and available to any who wish to receive it by faith. Our forgiveness toward others should also be free. Romans 3:22-25
  • We receive God’s gift of forgiveness when we likewise choose to forgive others. We cannot waltz through life enjoying God’s forgiveness while exacting revenge on everyone else. Mathew 6:12-15, Mark 11:25
  • Our forgiveness has the power to set someone free to receive God’s forgiveness. Our unforgiveness blinds them to God’s gift and hinders their ability to receive it.  John 20:23
  • Unforgiveness can cause a person to drown in overwhelming heaviness. We would label this as depression/suicide.  2 Corinthians 2:7
  • We are called to forgive from our heart repeatedly without keeping a record. Matthew 18:21-35, 1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV

Forgiveness is a Kingdom law meaning it governs both spiritual and physical realms. Simply put, it either makes or breaks a family. It is so important we teach our children to forgive and be forgiven. These are not easy lessons. Teaching it can be just as hard.

Forgiveness is best learned through modeling. Verbally walk children and grandchildren through the process of forgiveness and reconciliation. Be the living example. When that moment comes:

  1. Act fast. Be there in the moment with them.
  2. Humble yourself. Get on their level, eye to eye. All distractions set aside.
  3. Honor them by saying their name.
  4. Keep it simple: I am sorry.
  5. Explain not excuse.
  6. Ask for forgiveness.
  7. Gage the answer. We do not want a response like: “It’s okay.” Because it’s not.
  8. Empower them: “I forgive you. Please do not do that again.” They learn to forgive while also setting a new standard. Empower them to forgive and be strong by setting a new course for that relationship.
  9. Make it right. Take that first step toward the new relationship. This isn’t a price, its a product of true repentance. A desire to restore what was broken.

Example: “Ruth, come here. Can you set the pony down? Look at me. Ruth, I am sorry. I lost my temper. I was frustrated at something and I took it out on you. That was not right. You did nothing wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me? How can I make this right? Can we spend time together?”

Read John 3:16, Matthew 18:21-35 and pray 2 Corinthians 2:7, Matthew 18:22.

2 Corinthians 2:7, Matthew 18:22

Jesus, help me to teach my family in word and action how to forgive, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” I pray your Spirit would lead our family to, “forgive and comfort [each other], so that… [no one would be] overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”

Arguments and Reconciliation

Things had escalated fast when suddenly she screamed, “Get out of my house!” Instead, I folded my arms and stood my ground. “We aren’t done talking about this.” Whirling around she screamed, “Get out!” Yet there I stood, rooted to the floor. “Fine!” She shouted. “I’ll leave my own home!”

Anger fits both of us like a well tailored suit. Staying calm and not raising my voice took all the power of the Holy Spirit in me.

As I stood there in her home watching the tail lights disappear out her front window I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She wouldn’t be coming to my wedding.

Taking the path that cut through the woods back home, I mumbled to the Lord, “Well that was a total fail.” His next words hit me with such force I lost my breath. “I never fail.”

You see, to me this argument was the end. The “fail” was my failure to reconcile. Failure to apologize. Failure to Hope for more. My label of “fail” meant I had stopped believing in His ministry of Reconciliation. At least for this. For us.

But God never fails. Love never fails. This was just one brilliantly colored thread in a tapestry He wasn’t finished with. There in the woods on that not-so-well treaded path between my house and hers I gave the mess, the brokenness and the rejection to the Lord.

Leaving my sorrow there on the forest floor, I repented for my lack of faith in Him. Then I plodded the rest of the way home realizing that whatever God’s plan was, He clearly wasn’t done. I could find peace and rest in that.

Three days later, I stepped outside and found myself face to face with her. Right there on the lawn, she hugged me and said she was sorry. A few short months later she traveled to my wedding with her whole family. It was completely unexpected and one of my favorite memories of her. God’s fingerprints. All of it.

God is the God of Reconciliation and He has called us to be ministers of reconciliation too. We reconcile others to Him and to each other. One of our greatest roles as parents is reconciliation.

Reconciling family members requires keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Families have an ability to cut each other deep. From children to adults, we are called to forgive and be forgiven. To be peacemakers. To repent and reconcile. I can think of no better refining fire than the family unit.

Sometimes, we role up our sleeves and get dirty. Sometimes we simply need to get out of God’s way. Healing takes time. Respect. Faithfulness. Vulnerability. Boundaries. Love never fails. God never fails.

Read Matthew 18:21-22, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, and Colossians 3:12-15.

Colossians 3:12-15

Father, I pray our family would have “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other,” and as You have “forgiven [us], so [we] also must forgive.” Father, I pray, “above all these [we would] put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” That, “the peace of Christ [will] rule in [our] hearts.”

What about you? Do you need healing in a family relationship? Can you encourage someone who does? Do you have a story of healing to share with us?