Forgiveness and Consequences
By Harold and Bette Gillogly
Forgiving someone – that is canceling their debt and pardoning their guilt – doesn’t always mean we can save them from the consequences of their offences. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about:
One afternoon, our high school daughter came to us crying. She had skipped school that day and felt really guilty for letting us down. She knew it was wrong and had already confessed to her home room teacher. She asked our forgiveness, and, of course, we cancelled her debt to us. However, we could not protect her from the consequences she deserved from her school. She received an F grade for that day and it lowered her GPA. So sometimes we can forgive but have no control over the offender’s consequences.
And sometimes we can forgive but should not protect the offender from his consequences, even though we have control over them. But isn’t saving offenders from their consequences part and parcel of forgiving them? No, not always. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for someone is allow them to suffer the consequences of their own actions. For example, a friend of ours has a thirty-something year old daughter who is addicted to cocaine. She often borrows money from her mother to pay her rent. But instead of paying her rent, she buys drugs with the money, gets evicted from her apartment, and throws herself on her mother’s mercy and moves in with her, asking forgiveness and promising never to do it again. This cycle keeps repeating itself. So, the question is, what is the kindest thing her mother can do for her? Continue to shield her daughter from her own consequences or allow her to have to live with them? From the outside looking in, the answer seems obvious. But from the inside looking out? It’s usually one of the hardest choices to make – allow the one we love to accept the consequences of their own offences. Love does what is best for the one loved, not the easiest for ourselves. [Love]is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5).
We encourage you to follow our blog through September and discover more about forgiveness and how to walk in FREEDOM. For more information, you can read our articles “Done Dirty – Do Good” (https://marriages.net/done-dirty-do-good/) and “The Faces of Forgiveness (Part 1)” (https://marriages.net/the-faces-of-forgiveness-pt-1-of-2/).” We also encourage you to watch our webinars How to Handle Differences (https://marriages.net/how-to-handle-differences/) and What Did You Expect? (https://marriages.net/what-did-you-expect/)