Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13.
Teens are ready to cancel anybody that does anything they feel is wrong. I think even Shakespeare knew a bit about our culture when he said, “The evil men do lives after them; the good is oft entered with their bones.” How do we teach our teens forgiveness when the rest of the world seems to be inviting them to join in a righteous sort of hate?
I love that young people are seeking justice for the oppressed and being sensitive to the feelings of others. God commands us to “do justice” in Micah 6:8! But it seems one mistake now cancels out everything good that may have been done. The rest of Micah 6:8 is telling: “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Loving mercy goes hand in hand with forgiveness. We cannot be forgiven ourselves without forgiving others!
This is the very problem in our prisons, why thousands of non-violent young men languish – our systems are based on unbiblical concepts. Biblical justice is not to pay some amorphous debt to society, but to make restitution to the person offended. We all end up suffering from unbiblical ideas. This is just one example of the dangers of replacing God’s forgiveness directive with what seems best to man!
Raising teens is about understanding the issues that they are passionate about and helping them reframe or refocus them outside of politics and media, and into the Word of God. Our ideas should not be based just upon what other Christians say. Allowing our teens only to deconstruct their world brings despair. Rebuilding based on God’s vision for the world brings hope and inspiration. Social media can be a force for evil and for good! Are our social media posts humble? Can we band with others to defend those unfairly persecuted on the internet? God’s command to forgive applies especially to the anonymity of social media.
When our passionate teens see something wrong in the world that infuriates them, it is a great time for an open conversation. Here are a few questions to ask: “I am proud of you for caring and thinking this through. God is very concerned with justice and commands us to be, too. Google Micah 6:8. I am glad you want to do justice! How do we love mercy in this situation? What place is there for forgiveness? How do we walk humbly with our God here? Does anybody need to ‘take the log out of their own eye so they can see clearly to take the splinter out of their brother’s?’ (Matthew 7:5). Does ‘Love covers a multitude of sins’ (I Peter 4:8) apply? How do we balance that with speaking up for the helpless and oppressed? (Proverbs 31:8)”
Anger and hate change the world, too, but never for the better. World changers that cast a vision for a beautiful future are both activists and active forgivers.
Originally published in MOMs Magazine, April 2021 issue.
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