Sometimes, I write things on Facebook. And then sometimes I compile those things into a blog post. This is one of those times.
So here are some thoughts on Grace, Sin, and Unforgiveness
Grace vs. Sin
It’s a hard balance, right? Do we preach against sin or extol grace? Can we do both?
I was recently reminded of Jesus’ master move when he was standing between a vulnerable woman who had been “caught in the act” and some very powerful men who wanted her dead.
After he challenged the guys and the older ones got it first, he found himself alone with the accused. He asked her, “Hey, where are those guys who wanted to condemn you and then kill you?” She looks around and says, “All of them are gone! No one’s left!”
Jesus whispers, “I don’t condemn you either.”
Tremendous grace is given freely to the scared and hurting and absolutely guilty.
Then Jesus says secondly the thing we typically say firstly, “Now go and stop sinning.”
We need to say both of these things and we need to say them in the right order. If we only say “STOP SINNING,” we miss the love and passion in our Savior’s eyes and the demanded obedience quickly becomes unbearable. Obedience gets disconnected from the heart of the Father. But if we only say, “Jesus doesn’t condemn you,” we’re selling people a cheap half-truth that won’t lead them anywhere close to sanctification.
Sometimes I’m scared. Sometimes I’m scared to tell people to stop sinning because they won’t like it. Then maybe they won’t like me.
Sometimes I’m scared. Sometimes I’m scared to talk about the LACK of condemnation. Maybe they’ll like it. Then maybe they’ll just keep on sinning because, whatever.
But I’m realizing that combining these two truths, and combining them in the order of Jesus, is powerful.
And I want to echo these sister truths more often, and with boldness.
“I forgive, but help my unforgiveness.”
This has become a powerful prayer for many of my clients. (And me too, actually!)
It’s modeled off of the father’s prayer in Mark 9:24, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” I find it fascinating that Jesus didn’t chide this guy for his lack of total and complete faith. He didn’t sniff out a smidgen of doubt and refuse to help. He healed his boy.
Sometimes I need to choose to forgive, as an act of obedience. At the same time, I need to recognize the reality that heart-level forgiveness is not a one-time-say-the-magic-words-and-it’s-all-better sort of thing. This prayer honors that reality.
If forgiveness is hard for you, if you’re wrestling with the ongoing impact of another person’s sin, consider praying this prayer, “Father, I forgive ______, but help my unforgiveness.”
And see what happens…