In this post I want to share what I’ve been learning about forgiveness and reconciliation. The reality of what these two words mean for humanity and our relationships is truly profound. It’s not my truth. It’s God’s truth! And this is another great example of His majesty and His wisdom. He knows what our hearts need before we ever do!
Let’s start with forgiveness. I will assume that most of us understand forgiveness as a choice to let go of the hurt someone caused us. It doesn’t make the person, the words, or actions against us okay. It just means that we will not hold on to the hurt and seek retribution for ourselves. Let’s Take a look at what scripture says about forgiveness.
Mark 11:25 (NASB)
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that you’re father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.”
Matthew 18:35 (NASB)
“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.
This verse in Matthew is at the end of a story Jesus used to answer a question Peter asked about forgiveness. Please look it up and read it for yourself. My summary is that if you can’t forgive others, then God will not forgive you.
The verse in Mark, in my perspective, hints to the same truth, just a little nicer.
I have learned that forgiveness is HARD. It’s rigorous. It’s like climbing a mountain. I think I have forgiven someone and then they do or say something similar and all the hurt comes up again. I believe that this is a spiritual battle. I believe that we as Christ followers must choose to continue to forgive the person, even when we don’t feel it. I think we need to choose to not dwell on, verbally or mentally repeat the offenses over and over.
Don’t misunderstand me please…this is a complicated issue that a great book has helped me understand, Peacemaker by Ken Sande. All situations CAN NOT be handled the same. That’s why it’s like climbing the mountain. Every move is different. Every situation requires God’s specific instructions. Sometimes you forgive and forget without even mentioning it to the person. Other times you need to have a conversation, hopefully covered with prayer and love, and unfortunately sometimes you have to forgive that person and remove them from your life for a time or even forever. But that should not be decided in haste without God’s wisdom and truth.
Now that we have summarized forgiveness, please read more than this because I’m no expert, let’s talk about reconciliation. I believe that reconciliation is a huge part of relationship. Let’s face a simple truth here, we are all human. Not one of us humans are perfect. Which means, we are all going to cause someone else pain, frustration, and at the very least annoyance.
I believe that God wants us to love one another well. I believe that God wants us to reconcile with one another when we have hurt someone. I believe that
God wants us to reconcile when someone comes to us and says we have hurt them or offended them.
So what exactly is reconciliation. What does it look like. To me, reconciliation is when we take responsibility for our actions, our words, our facial expressions, our tones of voice, our lack of loving another person. Simply put, it means saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong to (fill in the blank)” I don’t think it matters what the intentions are at the time of the hurt. I think what matters is that we apologize, because we love and value the person we hurt. We value the relationship with that person, so we set aside our pride and let God’s love lead the way.
Here are some scriptures that have helped me come to the aforementioned conclusion.
Like I said forgiveness is HARD, I think reconcilation can be even more difficult. One of our new favorite sayings in our house is, ” Do what is right, not what is easy.”