Five Things Your Kids Need to Know About Forgiveness


As adults, we know that forgiving someone who has hurt us can be extremely difficult. Kids are no different. They struggle with forgiveness too. Yet God calls us to forgive others, as a way of life; forgiving others just as He has forgiven us. Parents are key to the process of teaching kids about what forgiveness means and looks like.

Modeling forgiveness for your kids is an important place to start. You can be sure that your kids are watching you to see how you handle situations when you are hurt—and when you hurt others. What messages are you sending your kids about forgiveness?

Additionally, your kids need to know that forgiveness is more than saying the words, “I forgive you.”

Here are five things your kids need to know about forgiveness:

1. Forgiveness means letting go of real hurts inflicted by others. We like to say, “forgive and forget.” But while the “forget” part sounds nice, forgiving does not primarily mean forgetting. It means letting go of the past hurt that someone has inflicted on you. Forgiveness does not make the offense against you okay, but it transfers the weight of dealing with the offense from you to God.

2. God forgives unconditionally. 1 John 1:9 reads, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” Notice it doesn’t read, “If we confess our sins, get our act together, and never sin again, He will forgive our sins.” God forgives completely through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. His offer to forgive extends to everyone, every sin, every time.

3. God makes the first move toward us in forgiving. God doesn’t wait around until we are sorry. Romans 5:8 reads, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Now that’s good news!

4. God wants us to forgive others just as He has forgiven us. God freely grants us forgiveness through Jesus Christ—and we are to follow God’s example and extend forgiveness to others. Colossians 3:13 reads, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

5. Forgiveness is a choice. God commands us to forgive. Forgiveness is an act of the will. We can choose to forgive. When we do, we leave the past behind, choose not to be bitter, give up seeking revenge, allow God to deal with the offender, and do our best to let go of the pain and consequences of the hurt we’ve suffered.