by Adam Kronberger / Superintendent
In all-school chapel this month, a student from the senior class said something out loud that personally offended me. I thought that it needed my immediate attention. I brought the student up on stage in front of the student body. I asked him to write down on a piece of paper what he said and the sin it reflected. I then proceeded to take the piece of paper and fold it up and put it in my pocket. I explained to the senior, and the student body, that I was going to keep track of this piece of paper throughout the rest of the year. Any time that I felt like it, I was going to take out this piece of paper and remind the student of how they had wronged me. I might even keep track of the student’s future actions and add them to the list. In this way I could have control over this student by holding his past sins against him.
Of course the student body did not think this was a good plan. I just happened to have a paper shredder on stage. I asked the student body if a better idea might be to shred the piece of paper which represented the student’s offense against me. They agreed that was the proper choice and cheered enthusiastically when the paper was shredded. To forgive someone means to release him or her from liability to suffer punishment or penalty. This staged chapel situation illustrated how easy it can be to keep a record of wrongs rather than to forgive. The student body was relieved after I let them know that I had planned that illustration with the senior student prior to chapel, and his comment was only acting.
As the school focuses on the character trait of forgiveness this month, there are many key components of forgiveness to apply. True forgiveness requires the person to no longer dwell on the past incident. This can be a difficult requirement. Students can practice the replacement principle. Rather than dwelling on a past incident with brooding thoughts of bitterness, they can replace those thoughts with prayers aligned with God’s love. Soon, thoughts of enmity develop into thoughts of sympathy.
As illustrated in chapel, true forgiveness demands not holding past sins against others by not bringing them up to the person or to others. This principle does not remove the application of wisdom in relationships that require caution, but it does require an eagerness to move on. Finally, students should allow the process of forgiveness to bring glory to God through their actions and a heart that is soft before God. Typically, healthy forgiveness can restore a relationship to an even stronger foundation than previously.
Throughout this month when students are tempted to hold offenses against one another, students and teachers alike are encouraged to not put those hard feelings in their pocket to pull out later. Rather, empty your pockets and shred those unhealthy thoughts of un-forgiveness. These principles are not only for children, but can bring tremendous health to all relationships. For more Godly principles on restoration in relationships, I recommend “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande. (Amazon $9.07)
– Adam Kronberger / Superintendent