Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Teach Forgiveness

I had an experience the other night that has left me troubled and unsettled. I have that feeling one might have if you walked out of a store (by accident) and had an item in your cart that you didn't actually pay for. (Now, some might feel triumphant having accidentally stolen something and in that case…I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to Christians right now.) What I am talking about is that troubling feeling that something is owed. I have that feeling. Only, the thing I owe isn't an item I accidentally took, it is an offense I caused against another person.

I dropped my 17 year old off at soccer practice and explained to him that I'd be a few minutes late getting him and not to worry.
The reason I'd be late is because at the time he was to be picked up I'd be just exiting gymnastics with 2 of his little sisters. That time came (which was 7:30), and we exited. And, rather than driving the 1/4 mile over to the soccer field, I totally spaced it out. Yep. I drove to Lowe's and casually looked at some plants. I drove home and casually ate some food and started cleaning out one of the fish tanks. La la la. Around 8:30 my older son walks into the room and asks, "Where's Josi?"

Panic! Horror! It was an hour ago that he was to be picked up! It was already dark! And, I had noticed when he got out of the van when I let him out that he'd forgotten his cell phone!


I ran to my van and did my best to not speed while I pushed every limit to get there as fast as I could.

He said the guys had continued playing soccer until about sundown (which was after 8) and that he'd actually turned down an offer of a ride home because I'd already warned him I'd be a few minutes late! Ughh! But, after about a half hour and it becoming completely dark, he figured I'd actually forgotten and he'd started walking home. When I found him he was about 1/2 mile into his walk and the guilt was terrible! I pulled over, heart racing, feeling sick in my stomach, feeling ashamed...expecting and almost wishing for an angry face and some yelling or some scolding, but, he smiled and laughed that I'd forgotten. He didn't seem to feel any need to "punish" me at all for this. 


He forgave me for forgetting.

This is supposed to be awesome, isn't it? Forgiveness? It's what Jesus did for us on the cross, right? But, I don't feel "free" to BE forgiven for it. Something inside me feels the need to suffer before I can feel OK about what I did.

For the Christian this is probably one of the most important things to comprehend. Yet, do we?
We evangelize and try to get people to recite that sinner's prayer all the time to be forgiven, but, yet do we actually comprehend "forgiveness" at all in the church?

Let's look at verses about "forgiveness" and see…


- - -

Psalm 130:4
But there are punishment and consequences with You, that You may be feared.

Psalm 130:7
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there are consequences and with him there is unlimited punishment

Psalm 14:9
The wise make fun of guilt, but there is forgiveness among permissive people.

Matthew 18:21
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you to forgive him because he should experience consequences, I do not say to to repay him up to seven times, but to repay him up to seventy times seven."

Matthew 26:28
for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the beginning of the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 1:4
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of experiencing consequences and punishments for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 1:76-78
"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give His people the knowledge of salvation by the experiencing of consequences because of their sins,"

Acts 26:18
[I am sending you] to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive punishment for their sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.

Hebrews 10:18
This is the covenant that I will make with them. After those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them. And, their sins and their lawless deeds I will punish them for." Now where there is punishment for these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

- - -

Oh wait!

That's not what the Bible says, is it? I altered those verses…didn't I?! 

We all know that "it's by grace we've been saved thru faith and that's nothing we did it is the gift of God…" Right? We all know that, don't we?

I think we all know that like a skinny lady "knows" she's not fat. Our minds tell us one thing but our hearts are convinced of another...


God wrote the Bible. Therefore it was His idea to refer to Himself as our "Father" and we His "children". He chose this purposely. Romans 1 says so. And, Romans 1 says that we're supposed to learn lessons from everything He's made and to not learn makes Him mad! So, a few lessons this analogy could teach us are for one...we are supposed to be able to look at our own interactions with our own children and learn about God. And, we are supposed to be able to look at our own interactions with God and learn how to be a parent.

When we look at those verses without me messing them up...we see how God parents His children when they're naughty…


- - -


Psalm 130:4
But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.

Psalm 130:7
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy and with him there is unlimited forgiveness

Psalm 14:9
Stubborn fools make fun of guilt, but there is forgiveness among decent people.

Matthew 18:21
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, " I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

Matthew 26:28
for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Mark 1:4
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 1:76-78
"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God."

- - -

Which way do you parent? Are you more like those first verses that I altered or like the ones you just read?


When your kids are naughty do you…forgive them or do you...take their cell phones? 
Do you forgive them or do you...take their favorite toys? 
Do you forgive them or do you...make them go to bed without supper? 
Do you forgive them or do you...ground them? 
Do you forgive them or do you...take their car keys?
Do you forgive them or do you...hit/spank them? 

I'm almost positive that if you're like me...your mind says, "Yeah! But, kids NEED to have consequences!"

Uh huh. Yep. 
THINK about this!  
Our minds have been totally warped by the world and how we were raised.

God is the one who told us that the way we raise kids up…when they're old they won't depart from it.

Check this verse out...


- - -

Acts 26:18
[I am sending you] to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. 

- - -

Until we're able to receive forgiveness…we're in darkness and in the dominion of Satan. Until we're able to RECEIVE forgiveness we're still in darkness and in the dominion of Satan.

Do you realize what that means, really?

My son forgave me for forgetting to pick him up, but, I can't RECEIVE that. I can't accept that. Something in me…that was trained as a child that when I messed up I got hurt…I got a butt whacking or something taken from me…SOMEHOW I PAID for what I'd done…that's still in me. That training that I'm obligated to PAY for what I've done prevents me from RECEIVING forgiveness for even small things like being late to pick up my son from soccer…when he's not even mad!

Is this in my head? No. I believe him that he's not mad. But, in every other cell of my body I feel like I need to "pay" for this somehow.

The reason for this is simple: this was how my parents trained me by giving me consequences and punishments. I am old now but I have not gone far from that.

Parents who are striving to not use punishment are usually accused by punishers of being, "permissive" and that those kids will run wild…but…re-read the verses about forgiveness. What kind of parent is God? Clearly, He forgives. Clearly, He knows best how to raise kids. And, clearly, He does not "spank" us. He forgives us. And, this forgiveness for "sins" is supposed to set us free, release us from darkness, and release us from satan's power…

And, He is our example how to live.

He is our example how to parent.

And, when we fail to follow His example, our children end up unable to receive forgiveness. We end up raising kids who overwork themselves to earn our love...to earn God's love. We raise kids who are too hard on themselves. And, we raise kids who live in constant "stress" which ultimately makes their bodies sick...

So many parents…and people who follow the teachings of people like the Pearl's in, "To Train up a Child", think that they're helping to ensure the salvation of their children. They think that they're parenting like God. They think that they're doing right. But, when they train up their child to expect punishment for wrongdoing, they are ensuring that their children remain in darkness and in the dominion of satan because of their inability to receive forgiveness.

The only way to raise up children who can receive forgiveness is to raise them in such a way that they do not expect to be punished for doing wrong.

Somehow, I am sure that I will find a way to "punish" myself for having forgotten to pick up Josi. I'll either buy him something or make him his favorite meals for a while. Or, once something bad happens to me I'll feel released. But, until then…darkness and satan have a power over me that Jesus died to release me from. AND...the other way that darkness "has me" is that I expect payment for sin from myself...and others. Being raised in a punitive environment makes it so that when people "sin" against you...you need to see them suffer before you can forgive them...That isn't God's way, either... :(

The "rod" of Bible times was a weapon that the shepherds carried and used on predators. If a shepherd were to have struck his fragile sheep with that weapon it would have only hurt and weakened the sheep and therefore made it easier for a predator to get that sheep. Turning on your children and using the rod on the…spiritually…insures the same thing.


Hebrews 10:18
This is the covenant that I will make with them. After those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them. And, their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.



The Biblical Rod:

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