Forgiveness, Grace and Tough Love

I lost count of the conversations I had last week about forgiveness and grace.  They ranged from how glad we are to have them personally to how difficult they are to share…with some people.  You know the ones I’m talking about—they’re the ones who are (right now!) hopping up and down on your last nerve.  They’re the ones who’re making poor decisions and expecting you to be happy for them.  They’re the ones who are living dangerously and being defiant or the ones refusing to live and being too dependent.  They’re the ones…who need forgiveness and grace the most.

I’m one of them.

So are you.

That’s us.  I just described all of us…because at least at some point in our lives, we’ve all been there.

Looking at the whole plan for humanity and knowing all that He knew was to come (because He really does know everything!), God still chose to create us.  He chose to love us and even send His Son to die for us so that we could spend eternity with Him.  Why?  Because He’s crazy about us.  Because He’s just like that.  He’s not lame, not naïve, and not needy, but LOVE.

So…if we’ve all been there (and we have!), why is it so hard to share those same gifts with others?

Our reasons may be many and varied.  Some of them may even be true, but it really doesn’t make any difference if they are or not.  We’re still called to share the gifts of forgiveness and grace.  Yes, I know.  Scripture does talk about the difference between those who ask for forgiveness and those who don’t…and it really does make a difference in the eternal outcome with God, as well, but it doesn’t stop Him from loving them anyway, regardless of the choice they make.

Tough love.  It’s more than just the disciplinary actions taken to help guide a wayward person back into the straight and narrow.  It has to be.  Tough love is about being love personified and being committed to love even the unlovable…especially the unlovable.  It has to be about hanging tough and loving them forever…no matter who, how long or why.  Tough love is the God-type love.  It’s the everlasting kind that doesn’t always approve and can’t always condone, but always loves anyway.  Flat out, 100% love.

It isn’t easy.  That kind of commitment never is.  It is, however, the kind of love every single person who has asked Christ to be their Lord and chosen to follow the path He laid out for us in His word has experienced personally and it is the kind that we are now required to share with those around us. (And, yes, there are still people out there who think being a Christian is just an easy escape from reality?! HA!)  We are called to be forgivers and grace-extenders.  We’re called to love those who don’t even love themselves enough to make choices in their own best interests.  We’re called to be “Jesus with skin on” for all of those who haven’t met Him yet…and might never do so if we aren’t serious about this love and grace and forgiveness stuff.

Easy it is not, but required it is.  Sounds a bit like Yoda-speak, but it is still true! (grin)

So, who is it?  You know…that person whose name popped into your head before you were even through reading the first paragraph?  And, what are you going to do about it this week?  (and just in case it was my name…I love you, too.)

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.  (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV)

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