Restoration in a Transformational Community 14Loving Enough To Restore

I really loved the person with whom I was meeting. But he did not want to be in this after-the-sin-had-been-exposed meeting and he did not particularly think that I loved him. Or, if I had loved him in the past, still felt the same way now. In fact, he was pretty inwardly focused at that moment. He was looking for a way to mitigate his sin. To find a path to walk away from the pain he had caused as well as was feeling. To find a safe place to recover. To him, the quality of my love at that moment was not a central theme of this meeting. He doubted my love. As a result, he would soon be walking away from the restoration process.

He walked away because there were personal family members who wanted to protect him from what they considered our lies/his truth. One called me and threatened a lawsuit if I did not leave him alone.

He walked away because there was another pastor who wanted to protect him from what he considered our lies/his truth. This pastor made me out to be the bad guy of the piece.

He walked away because he wanted to save his marriage and thought his lies/our truth would undermine his chances. A mutual friend reported that this tactic sorrowfully failed. And that the pastor’s attempts to protect him led to more damaging choices.

I have prayed regularly for this brother through the passing years. I still love him and would like to see him fully restored, assuming that this journey is not complete for him. But what I learned from this unhappy story is that not all love is really love. His family, this pastor, both thought they loved him. Both did all they could to protect him from the harm they expected that I would inflict on him. In the end, their kind of love failed.

Family and friendship love are a welcomed part of the human condition. But the love that God has for us and empowers us to have with each other is based on more than the value we place on being family or friends. This love emanates from the will—God willed to love us when we were His implacable foes. His love places value on the unworthy, the broken, the rebellious. It restores. When you allow the Spirit to produce this kind of love in you, it matters that truth be told. That the broken be made whole. This is costly love, because it required a cross to make it available to us.

Love is not giving someone a pass. While 1 Corinthians 13 does remind us that this kind of love is patient and kind, keeping no record of wrongs, it goes on to say that love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love is willing to look at the hard reality of human failure and believe that the person, no matter how badly he or she has sinned against God (Psalm 51:4), God can restore and we are His instruments. Not because we are better than the person. We are His instruments because we love the person and know that, there, but for the grace of God, go I.

Here is what God taught me through this failed restoration process. Never let your love of a family member or friend get in the way of loving them enough to allow them to remain caught in their sin.

Steve Smith