Updated: Oct 16, 2018
What is confession? Why is it important? How do we teach our kids to confess? We believe that confession should be a daily part of our lives as followers of Jesus and that we need to carefully model this for our kids. That’s why we are going to start a 3 week series on confession here on the blog. Check back to read more about confession and try out some of the confession exercises in your own families.
“Mommy, I have to tell you something really really bad that I did,” my (Sarah’s) then four year old son, Charlie, said with a guilty look on his face. I pulled him onto my lap and reminded him that he could tell me absolutely anything. He buried his head in my shoulder in shame and began to cry.
My heart was softened in that moment because I completely identify with that feeling of guilt and shame. I knew no matter what he had to tell me my love and affection toward him would remain the same. Oh, what if I could always remember that this is God’s attitude toward me when I come to him with my sins as well? He pulls me on his lap and is so thankful that I am willing to lay it all down before him.
Anyway, I finally convinced Charlie to share with me what he had done. With my arms wrapped tightly around him and his eyes turned down, he quietly explained that he had thought some unkind thoughts in his head about a friend the previous day. I actually had to try not to laugh because to me, the offense seemed so small, innocent, and comical, but Charlie was clearly distraught by his sin. I hugged him a little closer and told him that he was forgiven and that I too struggle with thinking thoughts that are not nice. He was surprised and comforted to hear this about his mom.
I knew this was also a great opportunity to lead him in a little confession prayer and then remind him over and over again that we serve a God who forgives. When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. He runs to us each time we repent and turn to him and we get to jump in his open arms. What a good dad he is!
I told him the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. If you aren’t familiar with this story, please take a break and read it right now! Maybe you grew up in a Christian home and have read this parable a million times. If so, I also challenge you to read it again with fresh eyes.
The gist of the story is that a son commits a horrible crime against his father--basically renouncing him and wishing him dead. The son asks to receive his inheritance early and then runs off with the money to live a wild and promiscuous life. Soon, the greedy and thoughtless son loses everything and he finds himself stuck in a hopeless situation. He has nowhere to go when he finally comes to his senses and realizes what he left behind. He can’t even possibly comprehend the idea that he might be forgiven for what he has done, but he wonders if he might return home as a servant. So he keeps his eyes down low and figures he might try to beg his dad to become his servant.
Here’s where the story gets really juicy and would have shocked Jesus’ listeners: when the son is still a long way from home, with his face covered with shame, he happens to glance up long enough to see something absolutely crazy. He sees his father, the very man he had turned his back on, running wildly toward him with a huge smile across his face. This was unheard of back in the first century because it was very foolish and undignified for men to run. But this dad couldn’t care less what anyone thought of him. This dad had waited day after day and night after night for this very moment. This dad saw his son from a far away distance, felt that his heart might burst of joy, and ran with all of his might toward his precious boy. This dad scooped his runaway son into his arms and gave him a special place of honor right back into the family.
I bet this parable that Jesus told was his absolute favorite story to tell. It would have blown his audience’s minds. It is a story about how much God loves us and the way he longs for us even when we run off and break his heart. He is a good father, ready to forgive us and wipe us clean when we turn to him. He’s not just in the business of giving us grace and leaving us stuck in our sin. He wants to restore us back into a right relationship with him and help us leave our life of sin behind.
Click here to try one of our Confession Exercises with your kids.