Helping Our Grandchildren Develop Forgiving Hearts

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by Kay Swatkowski

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

- C.S. Lewis

No prayers can be heard which do not come from a forgiving heart.

- J.C. Ryle

As we have also forgiven our debtors.

- Matthew 6:12

It was a peaceful October morning in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  At 9:51 a.m., peace and tranquility were the furthest things from the heart and mind of Charles Carl Roberts IV.  This troubled man charged into an Amish schoolhouse intent on shattering the peace of the Lancaster community.  Charles Roberts shot and killed ten little  girls and then ended his own life.

The world condemned the senseless violence and joined the grieving families in mourning their inconceivable loss. The compassion and dignity of the grieving community astounded journalists.

Nothing impressed the onlooking world more than the immediate demonstration of grace and forgiveness by the devastated families toward the perpetrator’s family.  Even before the funerals, members of the Amish community visited the home of Roberts’ widow and heartbroken children, determined to express love and comfort to the Roberts’ family in their own grief and loss.

How did they do this?  How could they so readily forgive someone who had inflicted such pain? I couldn’t do it.

The Amish community has fashioned a culture of forgiveness.  Their beliefs come from God’s Word.  They have embraced the words of Jesus that Christians are to forgive in the same way that they have been forgiven.  I admire their commitment to forgiveness.

In a society that emphasizes personal rights, payback, and revenge, forgiveness is a hard concept to grasp, much less put into action.

What would happen if Christians took seriously Jesus’ call to forgive?  What could change in our churches (and families) if we put grudges aside and reached out in grace to those who have  hurt us?  How would our families benefit if tenderness and compassion were more often our first response to unkindness or anger?

Nothing is more critical to the spiritual and relational well-being of our grandchildren than following the Biblical lessons on forgiveness. Children learn how to have a forgiving heart by watching forgiveness in action.  Our homes are front row seats for learning the lessons of forgiveness.  Children who experience forgiveness, grace and mercy from parents and grandparents are more able to offer forgiveness to others.

It starts with our own decision to do the hard work of cultivating a culture of forgiveness in our own homes.

Let Us Pray that…

+ our grandchildren will grow in their understanding of the forgiveness we can have in Christ. (Ephesians 1:7)

+ our grandchildren’s hearts will soften toward anyone who has hurt them. (Ephesians 4:32)

+ our grandchildren will not hold grudges. (Colossians 3:13)

+our grandchildren will be at the forefront of creating a culture of Biblical forgiveness.

+ our grandchildren would realize that choosing the path of forgiveness is difficult and that they will need God’s help in order to forgive as Christ has forgiven. (Romans 8:26)

Heavenly Father,

I confess my own unforgiving and hard heart.  I pray that you will soften my heart and teach me about true Biblical forgiveness so I can model a culture of forgiveness to my grandchildren.  I ask that my grandchildren would have a clear picture of what it means to live with a forgiving heart and attitude.  I pray that your Holy Spirit would speak to them and give them the strength to do what is right, even when it seems impossible.  Lord, you have forgiven me completely and freely.  Help me work toward this kind of forgiveness in my life.  Help my grandchildren grow to be kind and forgiving people.

Think and Do

1.  What difference would a forgiving heart make in your daily life?  Wh would you be without the bitterness or hard feelings you harbor against another.

2.  check out jenny Koralelk’s book, The Coat of Many Colors, to read with your grandkids.

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