Through the years, and after four kids, I have been able to build a library of children’s books. For devotions, I read and re-read a set of short Bible stories (Words of Wisdom published by the Hong Kong Bible Society and available in local Christian bookstores) to all four kids as they grew up. Delightfully, these books, which have colorful illustrations, have become sources of inspiration and memorable conversations with my young ones.
Recently, I encouraged my youngest son to read the story of The Unforgiving Servant. You will find the complete text in Matthew 18:21-35. After reading the entire book, I asked him what he learned about Jesus through the story. As we went back, page by page, like explorers, we discovered more than what I expected.
First, we reflected on how forgiving God is. How he overlooked the huge debt the servant had. I asked my son, “How many times do you think God has forgiven you?” He replied with a smile, “77 times”, quoting the number that the Lord Jesus used to encourage a forgiving spirit in others and to reflect His own forgiving nature. My son could not understand how one who had just been forgiven much could not forgive his friend who owed him much, much less! Refreshing wisdom from the mouth of babes.
The ungrateful servant was discovered and arrested. His once merciful master was enraged by his behavior, sent him to jail to be punished until he could pay back all he owed. There was an illustration of him in a dark cell with regret on his face.
As I stared at the photo, it dawned upon me, and I shared this with my son, how unforgiveness is like being imprisoned. He and I may not see it, but when we fail to forgive, thinking that it is our only way to punish our offender, in reality we are punishing ourselves. Refusing to forgive is refusing to let go. We are chained to our anger and hurt, and thus kept from moving on. Jesus loves us so much that he wants us to be free. Freedom is found when we forgive seventy times seven.
At this point, I asked my son if there was anyone he needed to forgive. Quickly he said, “No.” But I was led to invite him to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anyone that may have offended him and that he needed to forgive.
For a moment, I was thinking that I might be introducing a truth that was too much for his age, but I am glad I persisted. As we prayed to be enlightened, I purposely paused, and to my surprise and relief, my son began to pray aloud, “Lord, I forgive ____ for ____.”
He forgave three people that morning. I will not disclose who they were, but it was a very moving moment for me. You see, I grew up with resentments that wounded me, and I strongly believe that children need not grow up this way. They can unburden and process their hurts by being taught to release and forgive.
It was another proof that when God’s Word is released, it does its good work and does not come back empty (Isaiah 55:11). So grateful for the privilege to witness how the truth set our son free—a late yet welcome Independence Day.
Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon, co-host of The 700 Club Asia, is a homeschooling mom, gospel songwriter, and seminar speaker on parenting and early childcare. She is involved in the ministry of teaching at her local church, Christ’s Commission Fellowship. She welcomes your messages and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at Twitter: @FelichiOfficial