In some form or another, I hear this question a lot. Deep down, we know we are supposed to love and forgive others –even those who have hurt us. But it’s hard to know what that really means or practically looks like.
The answer to the above question is actually fairly simple. What she’s asking about… there isn’t a line. Imagine an object that represents forgiveness, grace, and loving someone well. Now imagine another object that represents trusting someone and/or pursuing a relationship with them. Are they side by side in your mind? There is not a thin, little line running between the two objects. Those objects are in two completely different spheres. They do not necessarily ever overlap.
Being gracious and loving someone well may never mean trusting them, which can also mean not pursuing a relationship with them. We’re called to forgive, not to forget. We’re called to love and be gracious, not to be doormats. Jesus doesn’t tell us—“Let your abuser keep abusing you! To love well is to be a victim.”
Jesus did say we are to love our enemies. Note: He doesn’t say, “Trust your enemies.” I said earlier that the answer to this question is simple. It is. However, putting it into action is incredibly complex. Loving someone well can look really differently depending on the situation.
Loving others, forgiving others and extending grace, is a matter of the heart. It’s about ridding ourselves of malice, bitterness, greed, jealousy, and hate. Then and only then, from a right heart we can follow through with the appropriate actions.
Whenever I struggle with this, I pray David’s words: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. [Psalm 139:23-14] The Lord delights in answering that prayer, and He’ll show you if you need a head/heart change. I pray that my actions would be appropriate towards whoever has hurt me… full of love, grace, and forgiveness, but certainly not blind trust or submitting myself to be victimized by him/her.
Does that make sense? I sure hope so. I want you to have a reputation of being incredibly kind, compassionate, loving and forgiving. But also as someone who is wise and discerning and knows when someone is trustworthy or not.