The Road to Reconciliation – do I have to forgive?

The Road to Reconciliation: Understanding the difference between Forgiveness and Reconciliation.

In scripture we are told to forgive. However, what about reconciliation? Is it possible to forgive someone, and not reconcile with them? Is it possible to reconcile with someone, without forgiving them? Are forgiveness and reconciliation one in the same? Forgiveness and Reconciliation are not the same thing. It is possible to forgive someone, without reconciling with them, however, it is not possible to truly reconcile with someone without truly forgiving them.

Sometimes, the confusion over reconciliation and forgiveness can actually hinder us from forgiving someone. Forgiveness is always a must, and ideally reconciliation should always be the goal. It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation, because forgiveness is between one person and God. It’s an act of faith, where that particular person is taking their heavy weight of bitterness and placing it at the feet of Jesus trusting Him to be perfect judge over the situation. This act of trusting God can take place in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from any contact with the offender. But, reconciliation is different, because it is focused on restoring broken relationships between two people. It takes two people apologizing, forgiving, compromising and changing. It’s going to take two people trusting in God, and asking Him to restore trust in them for one another. This takes a super-natural work of the Lord, because that trust was completely shattered. And, where trust is broken, restoration will have to be a process — sometimes, a very lengthy one.

In many cases, even if an offender confessed his or her wrongdoing to the one who is hurt and appealed for their forgiveness, the offended person could justifiably say, “I forgive you, but it might take some time for me to regain trust and restore our relationship.”

The greatest evidence of genuine forgiveness is trusting God to be in control of the situation, and allowing His grace and mercy flow through you to the other person. Forgiveness can be a moment, however, reconciliation that has to heal and restore a relationship is often a marathon. After all, isn’t this how God often interacts with us? Our forgiveness is immediate, but our fellowship with Him grows and matures over time.

Even when God forgives our sins, He does not promise to remove all consequences created by our actions. Being forgiven, restored and trusted is an amazing experience, but it’s important for those who hurt others to understand that their attitude and actions will affect the process of rebuilding trust.

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