When our children were younger, we had a rule for disobedience in public. It was taught to them that it may look like you are getting away with your disobedience while we remain in public, but just wait until we get home. You were sure to reap a level of discipline commensurate with your offense.
On one particular weekly trip to Walmart (better known as Wally-World at our house) our son Bryce decided he was going to test the waters with me just a bit. He was four years old. In an attempt to bring his mischief to a halt I took him by the arm and quietly whispered in his ear, “You know the rules, Bryce. When we get home you are going to receive a spanking for your disobedience.” My whisper was certainly more than enough to instantly cure his behavioral issues.
Like any parents, Steve and I pursued consistency in our parenting, attempting to offer our children a distinct foundation in accountability. So, after a few hours passed in our morning of errands and with Bryce suffering no more “behavioral setbacks” I found myself dreading the imminent discipline that was to occur once we arrived home. I kept reassuring myself that I indeed HAD to punish Bryce or I would surely be relaying inconsistency in my parenting skills.
As my thoughts turned over and over privately in my mind, a small voice spoke from the backseat. “Mommie”, Bryce said. “Will you forgive me for being ugly at Walmart?”
My first thought was, “Are you kidding, you little turkey? You are just asking me for forgiveness so you will not have to get your spanking.” Suddenly I thought, “Wait a minute! Bryce has never asked me to forgive him for his disobedience.” The sound of his sweet voice resonated with such sincerity and remorse.
Instantly, the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying, “If you received recompense for every offense you committed you would surely be dead right now. Do you know how many times you have “deserved” punishment, but instead were shown mercy?” A spirit of compassion was released over me in the car and I realized that more important than being dogmatically consistent with my parenting values was the opportunity to show my son the forgiving love of Christ. I quickly accepted his apology and taught him a new, more important lesson that day - repentance.
When we accept God’s forgiveness for the all the wrongs we have committed against Him, we should be grateful and willing to offer that same kind of forgiveness to those who have wronged us. (Mark 11:25-26)