Q. My question is on forgiving others. I know we should forgive over and over even to those who have hurt us one way or another, but I am in a difficult position regarding forgiving a first degree relative whom I always thought was a believer. One day out of a clear blue sky she said to me, “I don’t want to believe in Jesus anymore.” I learned she’s been involved in paganism, astrology and even witchcraft. I have told her that I love her, but that what she is doing is wrong and I cannot accept or condone it. Do I also have to forgive her, or not?
A. If her profession of unbelief is true then your friend never belonged to the Lord in the first place. 1 John 2:19 says, They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
If that’s the case she doesn’t need your forgiveness, any more than any other non-believer would, because she’s not sinning against you but against God. She needs your prayers that He would change her heart, and your witness of His love for sinners.
If she ever was a believer then she still is, in spite of what she says. Either way, prayer and the demonstration of God’s love for her are the two best things you can do. This doesn’t mean you condone her behavior, it just means you still love her as a person.