It must have been the third time Joaquin had told me that he was not inviting his friend, Marcus (not his real name) to his birthday party in September. When I asked him why, he said that Marcus pushed him and that he was still mad at him. I told him that the right thing to do would be to forgive his friend because that’s what Jesus wants us to do when we get offended. He said, “I have already forgiven him but only half. Next year I will forgive him whole.” I knew what he was trying to say because I have found myself in the same boat many times in the past. It’s like, yes, I want to forgive the person, but I am still too hurt to completely release forgiveness.
Though Joaquin is only 6 years old, I believe he needs to understand what it really means to forgive, so does every child, because he is bound to get offended every now and then. When he goes to school, when he attends parties, when he starts working, when he gets married… everytime he is around people, it’ll only be a matter of time he will get offended. And when he does, he can choose to nurse the offense or get past it and forgive.
These were some of the things I told him about forgiveness to help him.
1. The Bible says “Bear with each other and forgive one another … Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).” The main reason we forgive is because God commands us to do so. I told Joaquin to think of the many times he has disobeyed God and everytime he asked for forgiveness, God has forgiven him. Knowing how much we have been forgiven should make it easier for us to forgive others.
2. Unforgiveness is a bad root that will lead to bad fruit. God commands us to forgive because He knows how unforgiveness will eventually destroy you. It will rob you of your joy, it will make you a grumpy person and it will stop you from enjoying your time with your friends and family. (Hebrews 12:15 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.)
3. Forgiving someone is a choice you have to make, whether you feel like it or not. You need to decide to forgive immediately so the bad root in your heart cannot have a chance to grow inside you. “Forgiving doesn’t excuse their actions. Forgiveness stops their actions from destroying your heart.“-Anonymous
4. Forgiving won’t always be easy. Joaquin normally forgives easily, but for some reason, it hasn’t been easy for this particular friend. There are just instances when the pain will be deeper, and we would need God’s help to forgive.
After many days and several conversations with Joaquin, he still wasn’t thrilled at the thought of forgiving so I just kept praying for him, even asking my friends to pray for him too. It was that important for me for him to learn to forgive. Unfortunately, I couldn’t force him to forgive, it was something that he needed to decide for himself.
A few days ago, when Marcus came over the house, I heard Joaquin say out loud to him, “I forgive you.” I don’t know what prompted him to, I don’t know if the person even asked for forgiveness, or what conversation took place beforehand, I was just proud of my little boy for saying what he said. Thank God for helping him understand and helping him do what is right. This was a victory for me, but more so, for my son.