Miranda and I have been working on teaching our children about repentance quite a bit lately. We never really use that word, but we’re trying to lay a foundation which will make it easy to understand as they grow older. Our practice is to teach them a few things to say when they have hurt someone:
1) I’m sorry. (Stop behavior)
2) I won’t do it again. (Turn around behaviorally)
3) Will you forgive me? (Restore relationship)
After listening to a sermon from Rob Morris (Love146) I’m considering adding another element. He reminded me of the Biblical accounts where the repentant sinner’s first action was to “right” the wrong that he caused and and to even go beyond “right” to make it “better.”
Remember Zacchaeus, the tax collector who gave back four times everything he had taken? (Lk 19:1-10)
Or when the rich young ruler went away grieved because he could not bring himself to help the poor. (Mk 10:17-22)
In Luke 3:10-14, John the Baptist is preaching a baptism of repentance and when asked “What shall we do?” He tells them to give to the poor and to treat others fairly.
Evidently, our repentance should impact the poor and oppressed as well.
All this is to say, I need to find some ways to help my kids see that repentance is more than my three step lesson. It should have legs on it and actions tied to it. Repentance should impact everyone around us.
Maybe we should add the question: “How can I make it better?” (Restore/Improve situation)
Lord, guide us to model repentance for our children. Lead us to the strategies that will help us to encounter You – to be confronted by sin, and to recognize that our behaviors hinder our relationship with You. Forgive us. Restore us unto You. Change us. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to choose new behaviors and walk different roads and lead us to improve the situations that we have caused in our sin. AMEN.