Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation

Forgiveness and Reconciliation. One would think they go hand-in-hand, right? I mean, for you to truly experience reconciliation, forgiveness must be included. But the two are not mutually inclusive. The Lord has recently graced me with this insight, by means of my awesome pastor and an experience I still haven't grown enough to thank Him for just yet.
Forgiveness is letting go of the hurt inflicted on you by another person. You surrender your resentment and bitterness, releasing it and getting out of God's way. Essentially, you forfeit your right to sit in judgment of what they did to you. After all, that is God's position, not ours (Deut. 32:35). In fact, forgiveness is also a commandment. (Matt. 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 6:36-38; Rom. 12:17-21)
But reconciliation is the restoration of harmony and friendship. And that may never happen, even if you're walking in perfect forgiveness toward the offender. And that's okay. Why? Because reconciliation requires acknowledgment on the offender's part and acceptance of responsibility, as well as a commitment to change. Hence the reason why I say that forgiveness does not mean you have to go back for more abuse.
Nearly every time in Scripture where the words reconciliation or reconciled are used, it is in reference to someone being reconciled to God. One notable difference is in Matthew 5:23-24:
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
That was Jesus speaking, and according to this passage, it is the offender's responsibility to reconcile.
Healthy boundaries are essential in any relationship. And if the offending party does not respect your boundaries and is not willing to seek you out with respect to those boundaries, reconciliation cannot occur. You have every right to establish healthy boundaries. In fact, it is foolishness not to.
You can walk in forgiveness and not experience reconciliation. It is disappointing, of course, and setting boundaries can be very difficult, but sometimes that is the path we must walk.

1 comment:

  1. Exquisite understanding of the nature forgiveness. Thank you for sharing it here.

    I recently wrote a post that correlates with this (sort of). The title is 'Long Winters, Hard Pruning & Spring Fever.' You might enjoy it.