Grace is defined as courteous goodwill, unmerited favor, an extended period of time allowed to pay a debt or complete forgiveness of a debt often granted as a special favor. It is derived from the Latin – gratia meaning pleasing or thankful or grateful. Grace and I believe forgiveness originates from being grateful.
We all have people that have hurt us or been unkind to us at one time or another. It may have been a relative when we were growing up, a friend in high school or beyond or perhaps the guy that cut in front of us on the highway yesterday. For kids it might be the friend who won’t play with them on the playground, the kid who shoves in line in front of them or scribbles on their picture at school. Face it, part of living in this world involves hurt and pain. Some of the pain we experience is momentary and soon forgotten. We may go home and tell our family about the guy that cut in front of us on the highway and how we almost got into an accident, but after that, life goes on and we forget until someone else does the same thing. There are other hurts however, that are harder to get over and harder to forgive, wounds that go deep into our souls. Perhaps you have been wounded by a divorce or an unfair accusation on the job that caused you loss. Perhaps you grew up in a home where abuse or addiction robbed you of your dreams and made you feel worthless. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy. You’ve learned to cope, but you still carry the wounds around. How can you forgive in these situations and how can you be forgiven? Only by availing yourself of God’s grace. It may be a climb to get there, a journey to receiving and giving God’s grace, but it’s worth it.
God extended grace to us though we did nothing to deserve it and He is still extending His grace to us every single day. Because of the grace that God gives, we are forgiven and free to extend grace to others. So what do we do when forgiveness is hard to give? Let’s start by remembering that we are forgiven and thanking God for that forgiveness. Then ask God to give us grace to forgive others. Grace is often inspired by remembering the things we have to be grateful for. Above all we can be thankful for all that God has given us. He gave us Jesus. He paid our debt at the cross and He loves us though we did nothing to earn or deserve it. He forgives us, provides for us, is our friend and helper. He is everything we need. He is with us through every situations very hard time that we go through. That is grace!
So the next time you are having a hard time forgiving yourself or someone else, remember what God has done for you and then ask Him for and extra dose of His grace to give to others. When you begin to give thanks, even in the midst of that difficulty you are going through, your focus will change. You may still have deep wounds, but somehow those wounds don’t seem quite so hard to bear especially when compared to the wounds that Jesus bore for us.
I believe this is what enabled Joseph to forgive. He trusted God and lived in His grace. He was able to forgive his brothers because he lived in the purpose God had given him. He knew what God and had done for him and he knew that God had a reason for all that he had went through.
I am thankful for what God has done in my life. My hope is renewed, my debt is forgiven and I am free to love others because God deeply loves me. Having trouble forgiving? Start with receiving grace, God’s abundant grace, then ask Him to allow you to share that grace and forgiveness with others..
PLEASE NOTE: Forgiving someone does not mean that you allow yourself to be abused or mistreated. If you are in an abusive relationship or situation, get away, run or whatever it takes to get out of harm’s way. Sometimes grace it removing yourself from a toxic relationship. God knows your heart. You can forgive from a distance.
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:
Forgiveness and extending grace is not easy. Instead it’s easy to justify our unforgiveness and our not so loving actions. We might say, “Well, they hurt me first.” But when I do forgive, Lord, I find so much freedom in that forgiveness. It’s so much easier to let go and leave every situation in your capable hands rather than holding on to my pain and unforgiveness. Lord, when forgiveness is hard, remind me of all that you have forgiven me for. Remind me of the times you have given me grace when I did nothing to deserve it. Help me to live in your grace, mercy and forgiveness for myself and others. I want my kids to see your grace in me too. I ask that you would plant the seeds of grace and forgiveness deep in my heart, Lord so that I can live fully in your purpose and plan for my life and share your amazing grace with others. Amen
GRACE & FORGIVENESS IN THE CLASSROOM
* Balance grace and consequences – both are needed.
* Be grateful. Thank God for your students and for all the blessings He has given you and your class.It’s a lot harder to hold onto hurts when we are busy being thankful.
* Grace seeks the best for others – sometimes that might be reminding kids of the consequences of their actions, yet grace also reminds with kindness and recognizes effort. Grace gives strength to learn from mistakes.
* Have clear expectations. How can grace be exhibited through rules? Expectations give us boundaries to function within thus allowing your class to function with sense of safety and security instead of chaos. Grace then can be freely shown within those safe perimeters. Besides if your kids don’t know what you are expecting of them, how will they know when you are extending grace?
* Be warm, welcoming, compassionate, gentle and understanding. Basically that means getting down on your kids level and trying to see through their eyes.
* Remember we all make mistakes and we all need grace.
SHARE A STORY: Joseph Forgives – Genesis 45
REVIEW: Remember Joseph’s brothers were mean to him. They sent him to Egypt where he had to work very hard for Potiphar. (Pound fists together for working hard.) Then Joseph was put in jail even though he didn’t do anything wrong. While he was still in jail, Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) asked Joseph to tell him about his funny dreams. The Pharaoh had funny dreams about fat cows and skinny cows, fat, healthy wheat stalks and skinny ones. Joseph told Pharaoh what God said about his dreams and Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of everything. Joseph was kind of like a king too.
STORY: One day after Joseph had been in Egypt for a very long time. Joseph’s family needed food to eat because everything was very dry and not growing. Joseph’s dad, Jacob, heard that there was food in Egypt. He sent his sons (Joe’s brothers) to buy food. When they got to Egypt, they had to go see Joseph to buy the food. They bowed down (Bow down.) to Joseph just like in the dreams Joseph had a long time ago. They didn’t know he was their brother, but Joseph knew who they were. Joseph gave them food and asked them to bring their brother Benjamin back with them. The brothers went home. (Stand up and walk around like you are going home.)
Soon they needed more food. They were worried about going back, but they needed food so they again went to Egypt and again they saw Joseph. This time Joseph told them, “I’m your brother Joseph.”
“Oh no!“ they wondered, “Would Joseph be mad at them for the mean things they had done to him? Would he be mean back to them?“ (Look surprised and afraid.)
Joseph wasn’t mad. He was happy to see his brothers. He said, “Don’t worry, I forgive you. God brought me here to save lives.” Joseph hugged his brothers. (Give self a hug.) He told them to go home and get their dad and all their families and bring them to Egypt to live. Joseph was kind to his brothers. He forgave them even though they had been mean to him. Joseph knew he could be kind and forgive because God was with Him. He knew that was what God wanted him to do. We can be kind to our families too. Let’s ask God to help us be kind and forgiving this week just like Joseph was.
MEMORIZE: Isaiah 43:5 – (Hold hands like reading a book.)
Do not be afraid – (Show scared face.)
For I am – (Point upwards.)
With you – (Point to self.)
Joseph trusted God in the good times and the bad times. He knew God was with him.
I’m glad that you made me and that you love me. I know I can trust you always. Help me to be kind this week and love and forgive others. Help me to trust you and not be afraid when sad or bad things happen. Amen
KNOW: Joseph forgave his brothers. I can forgive too.
TALK ABOUT: Forgiving & Showing kindness.
ASK: Who made you? God made me. God made me for a reason.What can you do? I can be kind and loving to others because God loves me..
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
* Think of something kind that you and your child can do this week. Maybe your child can let their sibling play with a favorite toy or you could invite a neighbor friend to play.
* Talk about feelings. Show me your mad face, your happy face. A fun book to read is “Mad Maddie Maxwell” by Stacie K.B. Maslyn