Monday, August 17
Apostles' Creed Focus
“the forgiveness of sins”
“Jesus said to his disciples: Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” - Luke 17:1-4
Have you ever been around someone that makes you do things you’d never do otherwise? For myself, I had a college buddy who got me to do the most ridiculous things that I would have never done on my own. Some choices were wise while others, well, weren’t. I experienced things such as housing a squirrel in a dorm room, jumping from high places, turning a hallway into a slip-and-slide, getting stuck in an elevator, wrestling in a pool full of oatmeal; the list just goes on and on. As crazy as those things might seem, he also led me to evangelize more than I ever would by myself, find community completely out of my comfort zone, and seek the lost and broken. I bring up all these stories and memories to remind you how influential people really are to each other.
Luke 17 is a great reminder that you are who you spend your time with. Jesus is quite blunt in what he has to say about those who cause others to stumble. He basically states it’s better to leave them at the bottom of the ocean then to cause continual relational destruction. Other than this warning, He goes on to talk about how important it is to forgive one another and create a culture that makes forgiveness habitual. We ought to forgive over and over again, even when those close to us continue to sin (because if it hasn’t become apparent, they will!).
If we take these verses at a bird’s eye view, we learn that godly relationships matter -especially when it comes to forgiveness. If your hobbies, language, and actions are influenced by others, you best believe that a life of forgiveness sits in that same category. Now this doesn’t mean that being forgiving is easy, but it does mean your ability to forgive has ramifications you may not initially realize. What an important reminder it is for us today to evaluate where we sit with the topic of forgiveness.
Where does this leave you? Do you find it hard to forgive because you aren’t surrounded by many models of forgiveness? How well do you feel that you model forgiveness for others? Wherever you are today, may you be reminded by God’s call for us to forgive and to do so often. As we strive to live more like Christ, we become all the more infectious to others in doing so.
Lord thank you for being the perfect model for forgiveness. Remind us of how much debt you have forgiven us and how much we are able to forgive others. Bring us relationships that encourage forgiveness and teach us how to love those who might seem unlovable. Amen.
Verses for Further Reflection
Psalm 103:10-14, James 5:16, Colossians 3:13
Christian parents teach their kids that we are ALL sinful, and that we have each been forgiven by a loving God who is merciful and kind when we confess our sins and seek forgiveness. In your home, this means reminding kids to be quick to say sorry and to forgive one another when we do each other wrong because this is the way that God treats us. This is our end goal! We often have to remind them that our relationships and love for one another is more important than this argument and that, because of this, we love each other well when we forgive - remembering that we have been forgiven much.
Instead of just saying “sorry,” try to prompt your children to ask the other for forgiveness so that they can see more clearly that when you’re forgiving someone, something is required of you. Forgiveness comes at a cost. We are asked to lay aside our indignation and pride for the sake of the other person - remembering that the cost to Jesus was much greater.
When growing up, forgiveness was often held back in favour of bitterness and anger. I think that’s left a deep impression on me. It has radically impacted the way in which I deal with children today as I seek to always give them a route back to a restored relationship after making mistakes.
I’m very open about the fact that I make mistakes and that I too am a sinner in need of a Savior. We won’t always get it right, and there are times when we will need to apologize to them for our impatience, wrongdoing or mis-handling of a situation. But the hope is that by being open about our own failings, children will learn to recognise their own sinful behaviour and seek forgiveness for it. This is not easy, but in the long term this open humility will reap dividends for their spiritual growth and understanding of God’s goodness to them.
A Friend who Forgives is a great example of forgiveness from Jesus to Peter. You may find this book helpful as you explain this difficult concept to your little ones.