Sunday, 5 October 2014

Forgiveness and Consequences

A situation recently has made me think about forgiveness. We are called to forgive our enemies. We are called to forgive our friends. But I'm not sure this means we live in a world where actions don't have a consequence.

For example, a child is molested. We as Christians find out about this and healing is brought to the relationship through forgiveness and wholeness to the family. Does this mean we let the perpetrator babysit? Of course not.

I recently heard a pastor had admonished a family member for making a "fuss" over such a situation as the man had "repented". What actually happened was the man "got caught" when the victim - just five years old - had the strength to confront him at a family party.

We live in a world where consequence is belittled. Hell is treated as a metaphor instead of a real place, and as a result there is no fear of it.

We must forgive, yes. We forgive for ourselves, not the aggressor. We release the anger and hate and allow hope and light back in to clean away the darkness. But there must be a consequence to actions. Either in this world or the next.

Jesus spoke of Hell as a real place. Judgement - God's wrath against the ungodly - is mentioned through both Old and New Testaments.

Forgiving doesn't mean we allow the same action again. That is foolishness and it has no place in our walk with Christ. It would be equivalent to buying alcoholics a drink to help them recover. Utter nonsense. They should seek help and avoid the temptation. Equally, adulterers, abusers, idolators etc should be forgiven but face a consequence to their actions.

Actions have consequences. And forgiveness is not a free pass - it's a gift we give ourselves to keep our own heart free.

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