Forgiveness and Reconciliation


I shared a statement on Facebook the other day and said, “Forgiving doesn’t always mean reconciliation.” I received a lot of comments from people wanting to understand this more, and who thought it would make an amazing Blog topic. We all deal with people…and with people come “situations” icky, hard to deal with, and hurtful situations. Yikes...

Most Believer’s desire to forgive but its super hard sometimes ya’ll!!! Let’s be real…people.are.messy things get said, stuff is misunderstood feelings get hurt. Matthew 5:21-25 stresses the need to make things right as soon as possible. It can be especially tuff when you feel like an injustice has been done to you and you desperately need some sort of restitution the other party is unwilling or unable to give. What do we do? 

We need to understand the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is, “absolving or giving up all claims on account of a debt, loan, obligation or perceived wrong done, the process whereby the offended party “gives” up the right to “enforce” justice.” You let it go. Depending on the wrong done to us that can be easier said than done sometimes. But by God’s grace it is not impossible.

Reconciliation is, The restoration of friendly relations, the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.” The root of reconciliation is the word conciliation, which is the action of stopping someone from being angry, it means that we restore our relationship to one that enables us to be compatible and friendly with one another again. (Dr. Michael Williams)

God’s idea of forgiveness is reconciliation. His forgiveness is restoration of relationship that entails the removal of objective guilt. His removal of our sin brings us into relationship with Him, as if we had never sinned because He looks at us through the Blood of Jesus, not our own merits. 

But…as humans we have a harder time with the reconciliation part. Why? Because we all have a free will. We can choose to hold onto the hurt and destroy any chance of restoring relationship. Ephesians 4:2 states, “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each others faults because of love.” Our motivation for reconciliation should always be love. 

Our emotions are a big part of whether or not we can move forward with someone who has hurt us. Our emotions are a strong force in our makeup. As Believers we are to be in control of our emotions and acting out of our will. But…that be hard! We CHOOSE to forgive. But it can still be tuff to go right back into a relationship with the offender. 

It can take some time. Time for our emotions to cool off, for us to see their side and to understand why things happened as they did. There are always two sides to an offense. We would like to only see our side because we are innately selfish, let’s be real. But “reasons” do exist. Sometimes they can be used as excuses but there can be a legitimate reason someone did what they did. 

So…what to do. You’ve had a hurtful situation and you choose to forgive. But the other person has no desire to reconcile. They are done. What now? Reconciliation is always the goal.  But as I stated before we all have a free will. Someone can choose not to continue relationship with us. What we must understand is we cannot force it to happen. Then other times because of an abusive situation reconciliation should not happen. 

I’ve had a few relationships where I have chosen to forgive but cannot have a personal/close relationship with that person. They were people who are “crap starters”…you know the type. You have a few in your life too!! They want to gossip on the phone and take what you say and twist it and retell it to others to stir things up. They want a relationship where they can suck the life out of you but give nothing in return. It’s not that we can’t reconcile and have nothing between us because of the hurtful situation. But it’s more a matter of how deeply involved we can be with certain people. 

Toxic people should be held at arms length and not allowed into the inner circle of our lives. Of course we love them and are kind but deep personal relationship is not possible. I have relationships like that. I’m kind when they call, polite when we end up at the same function, but I don’t allow the relationship to go beyond that to protect my heart and out of wisdom.

We should always attempt reconciliation. But when it is not possible we must trust God and know we have done everything on our part to fix it. There are times we must learn to disagree agreeably. Choose to let each other have our own opinions but also choose to get along despite our differences and disagreements. We choose love over being right.