forgiving is a childlike thing to do

Posted: November 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

Yesterday in church, our pastor encouraged us to “be a child of God.”  He spent some time going over the characteristics of a child.  Most of them were the things I would expect, but one caught me off-guard at first:  children are very forgiving. 

Now, before you send me a pile of examples of unforgiving junior-high aged kids, bear in mind this scripture that comes to MY mind when I think of Jesus and children:  “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”  (Matthew 19:14)

Did you catch that?  LITTLE children.  Not kids who are half grown, richly experienced in disappointment, and regularly exposed to lies.  LITTLE children are tremendously forgiving.

Start with an innocent example, as our pastor did:  when two kids are playing and start to fight, and they end up yelling, “I hate you!  You’re not my friend anymore!”  Stop by the next day – or if adults have kept their noses and their own offense out of the mix, stop by two hours later – and the kids are usually playing like best buds again.

Move to a more heart-breaking example.  If you’ve ever worked with little kids for very long at all, especially out in the public, you’ve probably encountered parents who should not be parents.  Parents who let unnecessary harmful things happen to their kids.  Parents who themselves inflict harmful things on their children.  Pay attention:  their kids are giving them new chances, minute by minute, day by day.  You can be a pretty darn rotten parent and your little kid will keep loving you and keep expecting good things from you.

When we get older, we tie forgiveness to conditions.  We want things made right.  We demand apologies, and they had better be heartfelt.  Little children don’t yet have these things tied together in their minds.  Little children seem to innately know that they are helpless to change big people.  Pretty much no matter how you have betrayed them, if you’re ready to start fresh this minute on a positive note, they are ready to move on with you.  There are exceptions to this, but that doesn’t change that in general this is the rule.

If feels WRONG from an adult standpoint to offer forgiveness so freely.  And indeed, there are cases where people’s action sand attitudes NEED to change – where holding them accountable is the healthiest, most loving and helpful thing that can be done.

But maybe forgiveness does not have to be withheld in the midst of accountability.

Maybe forgiveness – or more accurately, the absence of forgiveness – does not function well as a club to be used to “beat someone into submission.”

Maybe forgiveness is a thing we give (at least as Jesus followers) because we have received it in such abundance, and that is reason enough to give it.

Maybe forgiveness is a gift that blesses us in the giving as much as – or often more than – the receiver.

Certainly it takes faith to forgive, in many a case.

Certainly many of us just flat CAN’T DO IT unless and until He does it in and through us – but He does and He will, when we are willing.

Certainly forgiveness can be an “expensive” gift to give – can feel like it is costing us everything, in its midst.

But maybe it is an investment that pays big dividends.

Maybe little children innately understand what we big folk have forgotten.

Here’s to letting Him teach us the kind of childlike forgiveness HE desires us to hold, and to give.

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Comments
  1. Pam Spangler says:

    Amen!

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