"I'm telling!!! .... Daddy ...!" If you have kids old enough to know right and wrong and talk, then you've probably heard those words.
If you're like me, you get tired of hearing about every real or perceived misdemeanor. Really tired!
However, there is no verse that says, "Thou shalt not tattle." In fact, just the opposite is true. Scripture commends, even commands, reporting wrong doing to proper authorities (Lev. 5:1; Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Tim. 5:19-20).
But, there is a biblical process. The biblical process is not See a sin > report to authorities. The biblical process is see a sin > rebuke your brother (Matt. 18:15; Luke 17:3) > assist in appropriate restitution (Gal. 6:1). If the brother will not repent, then report it to 1 or 2 who are qualified to serve as arbitrators (that's us parents).
So, I implemented this process several weeks ago. I sat the boys down and had a conversation something like this:
Daddy: Boys, the Bible says, if your brother sins against you, you are to explain to him that he did wrong and ask him to repent. If he repents, you must forgive him.
Boy: So if Brother A hits me, I'm supposed to tell him he needs to repent?
Daddy: Yes, that's right. He needs to say, I'm sorry for hitting you, please forgive me. If he repents, you must forgive him.
Boy: But what if he doesn't repent?
Daddy: Then you come tell Daddy and I will deal with it. If he does repent, then you don't need to come tell me.
It seemed simple enough, but it quickly became more complex. There are certain rules that I want to know about any infraction regardless of whether there was repentance or not.
I can immediately think of ways to abuse this biblical principle: big brother hits little brother, then repents, and insists that little brother can't tell parents, OR little brother commits serious infraction, is confronted, repents, and then insists that mom and dad don't need to know about it.
I'm still working on how to explain when I need a report about wrong-doing and when I don't need a report.
Anybody figure out a clear grid that is easy for 4-7 year olds to apply? All suggestions welcome.