Question for you, mamas. If someone were to spend a day in the life of your home, what would she say marks the atmosphere there?
Does the fragrance of forgiveness and regularly restored fellowship fill your home
It's no secret that the people we are most prone to sin against are those whom we love the most. There's nothing like family that affords the security to dish out careless actions and unfiltered responses, because they aren't going anywhere.
But sin is sin, and sin breaks fellowship. Forgiveness is required for fellowship to be restored. Considering the gospel, let's remember what it is that God has offered us in forgiving us our sins:
Forgiveness is a promise to count another's sin or wrongdoing against him no more.
I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
Once the promise is made, the wrongdoing has no bearing on the relationship. The debt that stood in between is canceled. Fellowship can be restored.
Forgiveness calls sin out for what it is.
Sweeping sin under the rug is not forgiveness. Forgiveness acknowledges what wrong has been done and acknowledges that it costs something to count it no more.
Forgiveness requires repentance.
There is debate on this point, but looking from Jesus's teaching in Luke 17 and the pattern of our own forgiveness in Christ, forgiveness is unlocked by repentance.
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Here is the beauty of this exchange. In repentance, both parties acknowledge the wrong of sin. They appreciate the cost of forgiving. They feel the weight of love in forgiving. They rejoice in the restoration of fellowship.
Forgiving is a willful choice made by the forgiver.
The wrongdoer is not entitled to forgiveness. He is in the wrong, and at the mercy of the forgiver. Forgiveness is a deliberate act of love.
Wow. Dear friend, consider anew what God has done! He did not need to forgive us. In love, he did. The wages of our sin (i.e., death) needed to be cast somewhere, and they were cast upon Christ.
In family discipleship and the life of our homes, THIS should be made clear and central. This is the category that should be built early on, as early as we begin sinning against each other.
Some practical encouragements as we forgive in the home:
Forgive in Christ.
Every time you forgive (i.e., as you discipline), take time to root your decision to forgive in God's forgiveness. Always take it there, because if Christ had not shed blood for sins, the world would have no category for this glorious restoration of fellowship.
Forgive with confidence.
Declare often that God forgave us first. Jesus died for my wrongdoing. He rose to defeat the power of my sin. Declare it because it is true.
Forgive with humility.
Help your children know and see that we as parents are forgiven in Christ, so now we can forgive! (Matthew 18:21-35)
Forgive with joy.
When offering forgiveness, don't do it with lingering disappointment or resentment. Demonstrate that it is a glad thing to be restored in relationship! In fact, throw in a few "I love you"s and hugs!
Forgive all the way.
Don't merely speak forgiveness; embody it. Since your relationship is restored, enjoy it, and carry on your day as if it is new. If your child sins again (and by "if," I mean "when"), forgive her fresh. It is new every time.
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