Teaching Kids Kindness

Some of the greatest acts of kindness I have received from others have been their acts of forgiveness. I have made mistakes, acted selfishly, and spoken wrongly about others which damaged relationships. By receiving it from others, I learned the power of forgiveness and realized the magnitude of God’s forgiveness of sin. In teaching kids kindness we must teach them to forgive.

Forgiveness is not the natural response of any person that has been hurt. Forgiveness must be learned and practiced. In teaching our kids kindness and forgiveness, we must teach them why we forgive others and how to forgive others. We must encourage forgiveness in our children and freely offer them our forgiveness.

To teach our children kindness and forgiveness we must teach them why we forgive. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The greatest kindness we can offer another person is to point them to Christ. When we offer forgiveness to others we show them an image of Christ. Because Christ has forgiven our sins and made us right with God, then we must seize every opportunity to forgive others and share the loving kindness of God with them. We teach our children that we forgive others because we live daily in the forgiveness of Christ.

To teach our children kindness and forgiveness we must teach them how to forgive. Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” In Christ, we have the perfect example of forgiveness. We were all enemies of God, but through Christ’s sacrifice we have all been offered eternal forgiveness. Christ does not hold a record of wrongs for which there is an accounting. We must forgive in the same manner as Christ, in compassion and kindness and humility. We teach our children how to forgive when we ask for their forgiveness and offer our own forgiveness to them. We admit when we have wronged our children and ask for their forgiveness. We remind our children that we need Christ’s forgiveness just like they do. When our children wrong us, we offer our forgiveness. We do not revisit the situation or remind them of our previous forgiveness, but we forgive and forget in the same manner as Christ. We teach our children how to forgive by pointing them to the example of Christ and living out His forgiveness in our own lives.

This summer, my 7-year-old started working through a Bible study book that was mine as a little girl. The inscription in the front cover says that it was given to me by a friend for my seventh birthday. Today that same friend and I can look back over almost 30 years of friendship that included moments of kindness and unkindness alike, but through forgiveness and reconciliation we maintain our relationship. This shows the truth found in Job 6:14, “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Friendships are a kindness from the Lord because in community we more clearly see the image of God in others and through forgiveness we reflect that image. We fear the Lord because He is our Creator God who has blessed us with His forgiveness, His people, and the opportunity to show forgiveness to His people. Through forgiveness, we strengthen the body of Christ. We teach our children to freely offer forgiveness to mend relationships and build bridges. What a blessing it is for me to have an enduring friendship, maintained through forgiveness. I pray that my boys learn the importance of forgiveness in their relationships to build up the body of Christ.

We must teach kids to be kind. We must teach kids to display kindness to others. One practical way to teach kids kindness is to teach kids forgiveness. Let us seek to image our Savior in this way and readily offer and receive forgiveness.

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