One of the many joys of parenting comes in the form of teaching our children new things. We all remember the first time we taught our child or children to tie their shoes, to hit a T-Ball, or to ride a bicycle. Most of us were just as thrilled to watch our children learn and succeed as they were in accomplishing the task before them. In this post, I want to encourage Christian parents to teach their children the biblical principle of reconciliation. By reconciliation, I mean restoring a relationship when sin has hurt the relationship.
We need to be honest with ourselves; our children are not perfect. Our children’s hearts are prone to sinful actions (Prov. 22:15). Our children will be sinned against and will sin against others. God has graciously blessed us with our children for only a short amount of time. Which means, God has placed our children with us in order that we may teach them the ways of the Lord. All Christian parents should desire to one day send their children out into the world as godly men and women sharing the gospel and contributing as beneficial members in society (Deut. 6:7, Eph 6:4, and Prov. 22:6).
For this reason, we must teach our children how to reconcile with God and others anytime sin breaks a relationship. How do we go about doing this in the Christian home? I will provide three areas of teaching reconciliation to our children so they may grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord. By the way, if we do not teach our children the biblical principle of reconciliation we may inadvertently teach our children that they are not responsible for their actions in any relationship. This mentality will not only hurt their relationships with others, but will hurt their understanding of the gospel. The three areas for teaching reconciliation are:
1) We must teach our children that anytime they sin they must first seek reconciliation with God.
When we or our children sin, we must first recognize our sin as a direct rebellion against God. We should be like David that pleads with God after his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). We must teach our children to first go to God and ask forgiveness in order to reconcile their relationship with God. I encourage parents to sit down with their child and teach the child how to pray and ask for God’s forgiveness. Feed the words to the child the first few times. After the child starts to see how you pray to ask forgiveness, allow them to start praying and asking forgiveness by themselves. Don’t forget that you are training and teaching your children the biblical principle of reconciliation. This takes time. It’s just like riding a bike or hitting a T-Ball. Once they get it, get excited and celebrate their accomplishment.
2) We must teach our children that anytime they sin against others they must go and seek reconciliation with the other person.
This one will be difficult for your child. Just as this one seems to be the most difficult among Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. Nevertheless, seeking reconciliation with others exists as an essential in the biblical principle of reconciliation. In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5: 23-24). When we sin against others, our sin hurts the relationship. We must go and ask forgiveness from the other person that we have sinned against. We must teach our children how to go and ask forgiveness in order to be reconciled to the other person. Teach your child to go ask forgiveness by confessing they are responsible for their actions, and they are sorry for their actions. The child is more likely to do this if you are standing right beside the child during this process. Once they seek reconciliation, praise them for owning up to their actions and seeking reconciliation.
3) We must teach our children that when they are sinned against the gospel mandates that they must forgive the other person.
This concept is another difficult one for children. Just as this concept is difficult for brothers and sisters in Christ. Our children will not only sin against others, but our children will be sinned against by others. They must learn to forgive others in order for relationships to be reconciled. We must teach our children that they have sinned against a Holy God more than anyone has sinned against them. However, Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and glorious resurrection has allowed a Holy God to forgive them of all their rebellion against him. This understanding of the gospel leads Paul to write, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). The best way to teach forgiveness to your child is to forgive them when they rebel against you in the home. Tell them you have forgiven them, and that you will not hold their sin against them. Of course we discipline, but after the discipline has been rendered, forgiveness is immediate.
Reconciliation is a difficult lesson to teach to a child, but reconciliation is a continuous lesson to be taught to a child in the Christian home. A word of example for you as a Christian parent to consider. If you are not seeking reconciliation with others (i.e. spouse, boss, church family, family, etc.), how do you expect your children to seek reconciliation. The lessons you teach are sometimes more effective if you are living out the biblical principle of reconciliation in front of your child. Do they see you asking forgiveness from God, from others, and forgiving others? Before you can teach this lesson, you have to be willing to apply this lesson in your own Christian walk. May we continue to live out 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That includes our parenting and teaching the biblical principle of reconciliation to our children.