I forgive you, BUT...

It is amazing how one small conjunction can change everything. The word "but" is a small word, BUT it is a word that can support or contradict everything that precedes it. For that reason alone, the word but is small in size but huge in meaning.

Consider these examples:

I forgive you, but...
I love you, but...
I support you, but...
I believe in you, but...
I want to be your friend, but...

"But" changes everything.  What each of these phrases screams is conditional forgiveness, love, support, belief, and friendship.

Does but always imply conditions? Not necessarily but usually - even if the conditions seem warranted. For instance, a parent might say to their rebellious child: "I love you but we will not tolerate drugs in this house."  But does not necessarily negate the original expression of love. Yet this type of "but" statement tends to be the exception to the rule.

Only God can exhibit and enable true unconditional love, grace and forgiveness. Check out how God uses the conjunction: For the wages (consequences) of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God's use of the word screams UNCONDITIONAL.  God's use: "Because of your sin, you deserve the spiritual death warrant and all the subsequent consequences that stem from sin, BUT what I am giving you is LIFE and all its subsequent consequences. And the means by which this unwarranted act of unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness is being provided? JESUS - not you or your works or your goodness or your morality. You deserve death BUT I am providing you life!"

There are no "buts" in God's love expressions. Interesting enough, Jesus followers are instructed to forgive as Christ forgives - a forgiveness that does not include the word but.

It is difficult to omit the conjunctions when it comes to heart matters like love, forgiveness, friendship, and support. Let's be real - it is unnatural - especially when we have been hurt, abused, mistreated, taken advantage of, or betrayed.  Conditional love, forgiveness, and grace protects us from pain. Unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace leaves us vulnerable. Unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace exposes us to the reality that we might get hurt again! That's why it is so easy to talk about and so difficult to do.

This truth is one thing that makes the love, forgiveness, and grace of God so amazing. He loves us without the but knowing that we will hurt, abuse, mistreat, take advantage of, and betray Him again and again. And yet He loves. He forgives - without conditions, unwarranted, undeserved.

I tend to tack on conditions with my love, grace, and forgiveness. Most of us do.  I'm not sure I know the answer to this struggle. Perhaps the first step is to pray for God to enable us to love and forgive as He does and to learn to omit the "but" unless absolutely necessary.

And perhaps the second step is to let people know how much we love them before we let them know how disappointed we are in their actions.

Bottom line: true love and forgiveness begin with actions and not with conjunctions. 

I can hear you now: "But Devin, what about..."

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