As we approach the Feb. 25th Bible study many of you are sharing your stories, and your questions. This is one of them.
Why is it that so many Christians try to unconditionally forgive? God doesn’t unconditionally forgive us, right? He loves us, but He asks us to change.
I read your devotional To Fly Again. It seems like you and others tell people to forgive those who are abusive or unrepentant?
I spend a lot of time right in the beginning of The Unburdened Heart talking about this topic, because it’s important.
You are correct in that we often confuse unconditional love with unconditional forgiveness, and that can be confusing, especially to the person who lives or is trying to love someone who is harming others with their sin.
Let’s look at an example. Elderly grandparents love their granddaughter who is addicted, and want to forgive this grandchild for using them. They want to forgive the manipulaiton. Her destructive choices, But they also want to love her.
So they confuse forgiveness with giving her more money, or shelter, or allowing the abuse to continue. After, all they love her. And they want to follow scripture which says that we should forgive.
But unless this granddaughter runs into a brick wall of her own making, this “unconditional forgiveness” will not lead this granddaughter to God’s best for her, but keep her addicted and broken. She can keep on blaming others for her circumstances or shortcomings, and change never comes.
God unconditionally loves each of us. That’s foundational.
He loves us right where we are. He meets us right where we are. But He leads us to a cross where we He becomes our Heavenly Father, our Lord, and we find absolute redemption which leads to a brand new direction, and transformation.
It’s a beautiful gift. He doesn’t just love us. He changes our hearts and our lives!
Christ’s example helps us to understand what unconditional love looks like. These grandparents love her right where she is. They pray for her. They believe that God marked her life with purpose. They believe in her when she can no longer believe in herself.
But they also love her enough to let her own choices lead her to a place of healing, rather than to help her stay broken.
They say no to money that will feed her addiction, or no to manipulation, or speak the truth about her addiction and her choices and the effect upon those she loves. All the while keeping the door open in their hearts for the future.
Will that be hard? Oh my goodness, yes.
They’ll wear the carpet threadbare praying for this loved one.
They’ll struggle with the brokenness in which she’s trapped, but be fully aware of the true enemy, who desires to steal, kill, and destroy.
All the while trusting and believing and calling out her name to the One who loves her more than any, who desires to give her life, and life to the full (John 10:10).
Forgiveness in this instance is just as powerful as any other. It’s accepting what and who you cannot change, all the while allowing God to transform you.
Your joy is not stolen. Your hope is not destroyed. It’s so hard, but you place your loved one in bigger hands, allowing their choices to draw them to the Father.
I hope this answers your questions.
Do you have questions?
I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers, because I don’t. I’m just someone who has traveled this rich, and often challenging road to living as a forgiver.
But we can look into scripture together. We’ll also go so much deeper in the study, and The Unburdened Heart takes today’s topic deeper still in Chapter One.