I’ve been being hammered by teaching on all sides on the topic of forgiveness and confession. I’m not sure I fully understand God’s forgiveness. It’s something God is still gently teaching me.
How we see God’s forgiveness certainly will show in how we apologize to and forgive others.
Most of us can see another’s glaring sin, but we seem to think if we simply plunge ahead and try really hard to abandon our own sin, no one else will see it. Like tripping in front of a crowd. Nobody sees that, right? You just get back up and pretend nothing happened.
Have you ever had a loved one, perhaps one of your children, get caught in sin and ask forgiveness? There may have been a struggle at the beginning, but they not only end up repenting of the sin they were caught in, but they come clean on other sins they could have very well hidden. They chose to repent of not only hitting their sister, but calling her names. Maybe the sin is scarier to you. Not only was your teenager out late, but she confesses to being with friends she said she wasn’t going to see anymore. Maybe the sins are even unrelated, but the repentant comes clean in other areas.
How did you feel? Were you horrified that they had committed other sins? There might have been additional consequences, but your trust was not destroyed with that child, but reestablished. Not because she was an angel, but because you could see the Holy Spirit working in her. Ultimately, it’s not any human soul that’s ever trustworthy, it’s the Holy Spirit.
There are two ways to repair a relationship when you’ve sinned against someone:
- Pretend nothing happened and try your hardest to not let that thing happen again (basically enslave yourself to that sin). You might find reestablished trust this way, but it will take a long time, and kids and parents do not have this much time.
- Or you can confess it, and anything else you’ve been hiding, and move on.
Have you ever made a child ask forgiveness and had them skip away, or watched the reconciled quarreling brother and sister hug and go off to play? There may have been tears or a struggle involved, but in the end everyone’s restored to greater joy and a closer relationship.
Do you see this in your own personal life? No one’s standing over you making you ask forgiveness, so maybe you don’t. Are you putting off repentance that would deepen your relationship with a child, with your spouse, with a friend…or with God?
Modeling humility and repentance to your children, and the resulting freedom from sin and joy in God, is one of the strongest pictures of the Gospel you will ever give your kids. Your children will never forget how you respond to your own sin. It will effect the way they see their own failings, the way they see their relationship with you, and the way they see God and their standing before Him. You’ll mess up, because that’s what we do, but when you repent, the respect, love, and trust your children have for you is going to skyrocket. They already saw you tripping, they just didn’t know you thought it was a problem. Be humble. Do what God commands. It will hurt, but it will heal. Dance alongside your kids in the freedom of the Gospel.
Photos by Susannah.