James Dixon, a friend of mine from college, shared this recent post on Facebook.
“That 3 year old head of household asked “Does God like bad people?”
I answer, “Yes God loves everybody, he just doesn’t like bad behavior.”
Her: “Does God love me when I act bad?”
Me: “Yes baby, he still loves you.”
Her: “Oh ok then!” as she jumps down from my lap w/ one of those “IT’S ON NOW!!” looks on her face searching for something to get into. *shegotme*”
James’ explanation to his daughter is simple, practical, and brilliant. He shows his daughter what God is like, affirms who she is in relation to God, and puts bad behavior in the proper context without diminishing her value as a person.
Our understanding of this concept is critical to our ability to forgive others. Regardless of what wrong a person does, they are still worthy of love. We must never forget that it was God’s love for a broken, sinful, guilty world that caused him to give his only son. He was still able to love and forgive us no matter what sin we’ve committed.
“And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12 NKJV)
The word Jesus uses here for “forgive” means to send away. It’s kind of like bidding farewell or leaving something or someone behind. As Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he tells them to ask God to send their debts away. They are to ask God to separate his view of them from what they’ve done. Basically, they are asking God to love the person and hate the sin.
Make no mistake, our bad behavior is worthy of the wrath of God. By God’s standards we deserve eternal destruction for breaking his law. But God’s love for us is so powerful it can sever our souls from the sinful nature that dwells within us. He gives is grace that we couldn’t earn, righteousness that we couldn’t obtain, and the act of forgiveness that loves us in spite of our faults.
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