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4 concerns that make it tough to forgive - especially someone who is not sorry at all

March 07 2017
March 07 2017

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One way we can make Lent simple for our kids is to focus on two things about forgiveness: God forgiving me and me forgiving others. Neither are simple but they are critical and the first enables the other.

1. God’s gift of forgiving me. God didn’t just magically declare our sins are forgiven. Our sins were paid for at great cost by his Son. And why? Only one reason: He loves us.

During Lent the kids are learning in their Sunday classes that the liturgical color is purple, the color of Kings; and Jesus is the King who saves us.

Families can reinforce this each night by lighting a purple candle, pounding a nail into a block of wood, or adding a link to a Lenten prayer chain (see link below) and perhaps say together, ‘Lord have mercy on me a sinner,’ which is termed by the Greek Word Kyrie.

Often our services at Christ Church begin with a beautiful Kyrie, as we did this past Sunday. All great classical masses, such as William Byrd’s Mass for 4 Voices or Bach’s Mass in B Minor also begin with a stunning Kyrie.

As parents and teachers we need to talk about why we need forgiveness. What it took. What we are now freed from. What we are now freed for. How amazing it is that God loves us so much.

2. God’s gift of asking us to forgive others. In the Lord’s prayer we say ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive others.’ In the February 19 sermon Jonathan St Clair more fully develops this verse and gives a suggestion for families and teachers to talk through related questions with our kids: who is indebted to me? How can I cancel their debt? What does it look like to forgive someone of their debt to me?

Interesting thing about God – He is not limiting our forgiveness to only people who are truly sorry or people who want to to be reconciled. He wants us to extend forgiveness to everyone, whether they are sorry or not, whether they want to be reconciled or not. And why?

- He forgave us – big time. If He asks us to forgive others, can we not do that just for Him?

- Harboring resentment eats us up on the inside. Unforgiveness ties us to our past hurts and can make it difficult to receive the blessings of new relationships.

- Forgiveness gives us the ability to move on in life. Forgiveness comes by canceling the debt owed – whether or not they ask for or even care about forgiveness. ‘You forgive to free yourself from those who hurt you.’ The Genesis Process pg.195

Here are 4 concerns that make it tough to forgive someone who is not sorry. The good news is that we can replace these with 4 principles from God’s Word – and then move on. This is something I heard in a seminar recently and it has stuck with me.

1. If I forgive them, they will go free. There will be no justice.

Only God knows what is just. Consequences are in God’s hands.

2. Forgiveness means I must pretend that nothing ever happened.

Forgiveness is not denial. Tell the truth; don’t minimize it in order to forgive.

3. If I forgive, I will become vulnerable to them again.

Forgiving someone does not mean that they are safe; it does not mean you need to trust them again.

4. My unforgiveness is justified because I am right, and they will never see their wrong and repent if I let go.

My unforgiveness only hurts me and allows what they did to control my life.

Caught in a family feud? The sacrifice of Christ has the power to break this generational pattern so that the feuding stops with you. And may we not minimize the powerful effect these steps of faith have on a child.

The Elementary kids’ lesson Jesus anointed by a sinful woman (Luke 8) and the Preschool kids’ lesson Jesus Healing the Paralytic (Luke 5) both centerpiece Jesus forgiving someone of their sins before he responds to any other needs. Why is the forgiveness of their sins so important? Because from a heart that knows that ‘I am loved enough to be saved’ comes forth all kinds of love and forgiveness towards others.

It is because Jesus has forgiven us that we are able to forgive others. There’s no other reason that works for me.