Grace is hard to explain in words because it does not stem from our human instincts, and it's something that we all struggle to comprehend. Grace is about more than mercy, and it requires actions of love that go beyond forgiveness. It is a gift that not only forgets our past wrongs but also makes us whole, no matter our current or future imperfections. Grace is something we learn by example. So it might seem daunting to explain to your children when their understanding of the world relies on you. Where should you begin?
Where does grace come from?
To explain our source of grace, start with the sacrifice of Jesus and what it means. Use resources like The Bible Project to give your child(ren) more context about who Jesus is and why His death saved us. Whether your kids already know the story of Adam and Eve or not, it's a great starting point to illustrate that God gave us free will, but because of sin, we turn from God's guidance. It's important to emphasize here that God does love us no matter what, and that is why it pains Him when we do things that aren't for good. A great way to leave the conversation open is by encouraging your kids to memorize John 3:16. Or, if they hate memorization, creativity can grow comprehension. Ask them if they'd like to make a drawing or craft based on it! If your kids are a little older, encourage them to learn more about who Jesus is and journal about it or talk with friends.
Why we should choose grace
Why should we reflect grace even though we aren't perfect ourselves? What makes us qualified to give grace to others? If Jesus provides grace, isn't it our job to tell people about their sin? For young children especially, getting straight to the point is a common mindset. Your child might ask, "If someone is sinning, shouldn't I tell them?" And the complex part is, the answer isn't always "no." The answer is to love first. We aren't just here to receive Jesus' grace and tell others about it; we are here to live like Jesus. Here are some verses that make it clear what grace means for our lives:
Here's a resource you can use to help your child(ren) understand why we can trust the Bible is the truth.
Lead with grace and accountability.
Jesus showed us grace on display, and we should do the same for others. Show your child(ren) through your actions what grace looks like in everyday life. But also demonstrate that grace doesn't mean we should do whatever we want and then ask for forgiveness. God intends His guidance for our good, and when we are faithful, we should want to live as disciples. We never have to earn our grace, yet we are still responsible for how we live and treat others. You can give a real-life example by explaining to your child that you will love and listen to them no matter what, but you will also give them instruction and discipline to help them live their best lives.
To reflect grace to people who look up to us, we also need to take accountability. If we don't show remorse for our mistakes, we set the precedent that giving grace means letting people walk over us. And so, it's important to teach kids about the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking. I don't have any experience raising children, but I want to influence grace in the relationships I have, and I know I fail to do so a lot. What I've learned is that people pay attention when we are active peacemakers without judging.
So when your kids witness you judging someone else, it's okay to express remorse while still acknowledging if the mentioned person did something wrong. Grace is all about selflessness, so the question to pose to yourself and your children is: "What can I do to show love?" Sometimes love is about hard conversations when we face our struggles or counsel someone we care about. But the meaning of grace is to offer that love even when we see the worst in each other, and to trust in God’s love even when we see the worst in ourselves.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.