There is a difference between forgiveness and enablement. In our commitment to showing grace to others, we must consider the ramifications of enabling others to continue in sin.
Common Misconceptions About Forgiveness
- We can forgive and forget.
- Forgiveness guarantees that we offer unchecked trust.
- Forgiveness removes the potential of natural consequences.
Important Goals for Forgiveness
- Offering forgiveness means you are hoping for God’s best for that person.
- Our forgiveness should be modeled after God’s forgiveness of us.
- Does God forgive us with words like these examples?
- “I’ll forgive them, but I’m just not going to tell them.”
- “I’ll forgive them, but I don’t like them.”
- “I’ll forgive them, but I just don’t want to be around them.”
Needed Acceptance of Consequences
Deuteronomy 32:48–52 ESV
48 That very day the Lord spoke to Moses, 49 “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. 50 And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51 because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. 52 For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.”
- Moses attempted to take God’s glory, and so God removed some of Moses’ reward.
- God promises Moses an eternal forgiveness, but He also applies a temporal consequence.
- Nothing could change the fact that Moses’ sin deserved and demanded consequences.
- Nothing could change the fact that God’s mercy offered and applied blessings superior to the consequences.
- Don’t blame God for when your mistakes deserve God’s discipline, others’ retaliation, internal guilt, or natural consequences.
Helpful Considerations for Reconciliation
- Don’t allow someone to use religious guilt provoking you to enable further toxic behavior.
- “If you really were a Christian, you would forgive me.”
- “I said I’m sorry already; why are you still upset?”
- “How long are you going to be mad about it?”
- The victimizer who demands the victim to get over hurt on his or her timetable is lacking compassion and ownership.
- Do not be manipulated into thinking that forgiveness forces you to overlook needed boundaries.
- Forgiveness is not enablement.
- If a person is drinking, you have the right to take away the keys.
- If someone refuses to pay you back what you loaned, you can forgive and refuse to do anymore financial dealings with the person.
- If a spouse is unfaithful, you have the right to demand access into whatever area you deem fit.
- If a family member cannot control media consumption, it is wise to restrict access.
- There is room in forgiveness for both blessing and boundary.
- If you enable someone’s sinful behavior, you are asking to be offended repeatedly.
- You are responsible for what you do, but you are not responsible for how another responds.
- You are responsible for processing your feelings, but you’re not responsible for how another feels toward your boundaries.
- When forgiveness is required, that means that something significantly sinful has transpired.
- It’s OK to love someone and limit the way he or she can continue to hurt you.
Scriptural Reminders for Relational Boundaries
- Psalm 26:4 ESV
- 4 I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.
- Proverbs 11:3 ESV
- 3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
- Proverbs 5:22 ESV
- 22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
- Proverbs 4:23 ESV
- 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
- Luke 6:31 ESV
- 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.