One of the best things we can do as believers is walk through the 5 Steps of Repentance with the Lord and with others!
I know you’re thinking, whoa. Repentance is a big word, Jules. What kid is going to understand that?
It might be a big word, but it has a pretty simple definition. Repentance means to turn from our sin. Turning from our sin is an important part of our relationship with Jesus because it brings glory to His name and it helps us to enjoy His best for our lives!
Acts 3:19-20 says —
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord!
I want my kids to know the sweet freedom and refreshment that comes from confessing their sins and being honest with God. I want them to know the life-giving joy as a result of receiving His amazing grace. It fuels our need for Him! It inspires grateful worship!
Plus, kids usually have lots of opportunities to practice asking for, receiving, and extending forgiveness for their choices as they learn and grow. I want them to learn how to have healthy relationships with others and God, so here is how I am teaching my boys about the 5 Steps of Repentance!
#1 – Listen to the Spirit
Even the youngest of kids can learn how to identify that the icky feeling they felt after taking their brother’s toy, or running away from Mommy, or saying that unkind thing, was the Holy Spirit letting them know when they have sinned against someone and against Him. It’s important to practice this by creating space to hear the Holy Spirit. Psalm 4:4 encourages us to, “When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” Listening to these nudges is important because He loves us and wants us to seek after restoration. Whenever my kids voluntarily come to me to apologize after making a wrong choice, I try to pay attention and take a minute to affirm them by saying, “Praise the Lord, buddy! You listened to the Holy Spirit! I see God working in your life!”
When you teach your kiddos this step, have them say Listen to the Spirit while cupping their ear.
“God, see what is in my heart. Know what is there. Test me. Know what I’m thinking. See if there’s anything in my life you don’t like. Help me live in the way that is always right.” Psalm 139:23-24
#2 – Say Sorry
After listening to the Spirit and identifying what was done wrong, it’s time to go to the person that was wronged and say sorry – confessing to that person by addressing the wrong specifically. If a child took a toy from his friend he can say, “I am so sorry that I took your toy.” “I am so sorry for saying that mean thing.” “I am so sorry for using an unkind tone of voice,” etc.
When you teach your kiddos this step, have them say Say Sorry while holding their hand to their mouth.
“So confess your sins to one another. Pray for one another so that you might be healed.” James 5:16
#3 – Ask Forgiveness
Once sorry has been said, the next step is to ask for forgiveness. This is a way of humbly acknowledging that you hurt someone with your choices and that person now has the chance to forgive and help your relationship move forward toward restoration.
When my kids tell the Lord that they are sorry for something they did and they ask Him for forgiveness, I remind them that He forgives them ALWAYS. Every time. No matter what. (Check out the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11–32 for a good picture of this!) We should ask God to help us extend that same kind of forgiveness toward others when they come to us with the 5 Steps of Repentance.
When you teach your kiddos this step, have them say Ask Forgiveness while holding their hands together in a please position.
“He has removed our sins from us. He has removed them as far as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12
#4 – Make it Right
Step 4 is to make things right with the person you have wronged. For example, if a child took a toy from his sister, he can make things right with her by returning the toy. If a child said something unkind, she can make things right by saying something kind. If a child hit his brother, he can make it right by getting his brother a band-aid or ice pack. This step is important because kids get to find a way to fix the mess they made! They can be proactive and focus on helping instead of hurting more or wallowing over what they did.
I love how Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8 made things right with Jesus after years of stealing — he promised to give back 4 times the amount he took. That is what happens when you experience the generous grace of God!
When you teach your kiddos this step, have them say Make it Right while giving two thumbs up.
#5 – Go and Grow!
We can now move forward in obedience to not make that choice again! Just as Jesus encouraged the woman in John 8 to, “Go and sin no more!”, we can be encouraged to do the same! But only in His strength alone. We cannot obey perfectly (and we won’t), but it is in our weakness where we are most strong. So teach your kiddos to cry out to Jesus whenever they feel tempted to make the same wrong choice again. Teach them how to recite and apply specific Bible verses when they are tempted in a particular struggle. This is the process of sanctification.
There’s another big word for yah. 😉
When you teach your kiddos this step, have them say Go and Grow! while pumping their fist in the air.
There it is! Not too hard, right?
Let me know if you do this with your kids (and maybe even in your marriage — right?!)! Praying lots of freedom and restoration in your homes!
“From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.'” Matthew 4:17