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Forgiveness. Show It? Or Teach It?

by Erin Carroll


A few weeks ago we were at a big group play date. My boys had a great time with all of their friends. Everyone was having a great time. And then they weren’t. My almost-five-year-old got into a little tiff with a friend over a toy and he ended up in tears. So we went home.


On the way home, we were able to distract him and started talking about our plans for the next day. He immediately asked if he could invite a friend over to play, and he wanted to invite the friend that he’d argued with earlier.


We asked him if he was sure about that decision and reminded him that they hadn’t really gotten along that day. And he immediately said, “He’s my best friend. I’m not mad at him.”


It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?


Forgiveness. Just like that.

All this time, I have been wondering how to teach my children about grace and forgiveness. How do I help them understand the magnitude of God’s grace? What Jesus did for us on the cross. That all of our sins are forgiven.

How can they know that that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord? (Romans 8:39-39)


It’s by showing them.


It’s by forgiving them when they mess up. Showing them what it means to forgive by demonstrating it for them.




But I’ve learned so much from my boys and their quickness to forgive. Their simple way of recognizing that “because I love him and because he’s my friend, I forgive him.”


This Easter weekend, as we do our very best to tell our boys the story of Christ’s life, His death, and His resurrection, I know that the way to tell them is to show them. To forgive. To show grace. And to always talk to my boys about unbelievably thankful I am for God’s infinite grace.


How is forgiveness taught or shared in your home?


Is this an easy topic or tough topic?

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  1. I think one of the keys is asking for forgiveness from our children. It is ever so humbling, but so very crucial. We also teach our kids to not just say “I’m sorry,” but to say, ” Please forgive me for…. “. The offended is taught to answer, ” I forgive you” rather than “It’s ok.”. We live in a society where a non-apology is the norm; demonstrating repentence and forgiveness are kingdom traits our homes and world desperately need modeled.

  2. I love this Erin. I have often been amazed at how quickly my boys forgive their friends. I’ll be 5 minutes into a lecture on forgiving quickly & w/ all my words, they’ve moved on-already planning the next adventure with their friend. I love how kids have so little concept of holding a grudge & love so easily. Thank you for this reminder on such a special weekend.

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