Forgiveness: Sending Away Hate (And Offering Love)

The word “forgive” means “to send away.” If we’re to forgive others as God forgives us, then we have to send away what God sends away. One of the things God sends away is hate. In its place, He chooses to love.

We all know what hate looks like: isolation, shame, punishment. We’ve all experienced (and dished out) cold withdrawal, demeaning comments, and self-righteous retaliation. We’re familiar with such hate-based actions. But sending away hate? That’s not as familiar to us. It is, however, very familiar to God. He starts with Adam and Eve.

What Motivates Forgiveness?
Does an angry God cut Adam and Eve out of His heart when they sin? No. He doesn’t. Instead He approaches them. He asks questions that draw them out of the bushes, out of their lies, and into His presence. Where are you? What is this you have done? Instead of distancing from them, God distances from hate. Said another way, God forgives.

Adam and Eve’s sin (though clearly seen and in no way condoned) can’t cool down God’s ardor for the two rebels. Even their blatant dismissal of Him doesn’t alter G0d’s hunger for them to return His love. On page 16 of his book Bold Love, Dan Allender captures God’s heart when he tells us: “The driving motive behind forgiveness is the hope of restoration.”

An Unexpected Sequence
Did you notice that God offers Adam and Eve His loving forgiveness before they show any signs of repentance? He forgives them while they’re still resisting Him. Even as He watches them hide behind leaves, blame, and excuses, He longs to restore the intimacy they once shared.

Offering forgiveness to the undeserving and unrepentant is God’s way to soften hearts.

Forgiveness precedes repentance. The bible describes this sequence repeatedly:

  • John 3:16God so loved the world [i.e. the unrepentant] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. First forgiveness. Then repentance.
  • Luke 15:11-32 – The prodigal son’s father (a picture of God the Father) humiliates himself and races to protect his scheming son from an angry community. The son is so shaken when he sees his father’s costly love that he (probably for the first time in years) loves his father back. First forgiveness. Then repentance.
  • Jesus does the same. He suffers the crossto offer us protection from the death we deserve. First forgiveness. Then repentance – some completed, some yet to come.

God always demonstrates forgiveness by sending away hate and offering love. He longs for everyone to love Him back. Sometimes His longing is fulfilled – sometimes not. Is He still waiting for your response?

Forgiveness: Sending Away Hate (And Offering Love)
© Lynne Fox, 2015, rev. 2017


4 thoughts on “Forgiveness: Sending Away Hate (And Offering Love)

  • March 8, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    What struck me as I read about your encounter with your slandering friend was that you sought God as you walked and then you trusted God to deal with her heart and to trust God for what He put on your heart to do…such grace, beauty and freedom….Thank you!

    • March 8, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Thanks for showing me what I did :). It didn’t feel very gracious, beautiful, or free at the time – I was too upset. The Lord was the only one I could think of that might help!

  • March 7, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Thank you for this post. God keeps reminding me that when I put off an ungodly character quality I need to put on a godly one in its place. So to send away hate and put love in its place is clearly what God wants us to do. As I read this article I did feel God melting my heart for someone who has offended me and others repeatedly. I thank God for the grace of forgiveness. But when it comes to loving her, many questions race through my mind. How do I engage with her? What do I say? Do I say anything at all or let the Lord work on her heart? How do I love her wisely? I guess this is why we keep going back to the Lord to see how we can partner with Him in loving people. But forgiveness and prayer seem to be a good place to start.

    • March 8, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Your comment about putting a godly character quality in the place of an ungodly character quality started me thinking about Jesus’ warning to the scribes and Pharisees in Mark 12:38-45 where Jesus tells them a story about an an unclean spirit which re-enters a clean, orderly, but unoccupied house. I’m wondering if the empty house signified the Pharisee’s hearts. They had orderly, “cleaned-up” lives but empty, unrepentant hearts. God, as evidenced in Genesis 1, doesn’t leave empty places. As you suggest, we shouldn’t either. Thanks for your thought-provoking words.


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