As Christians we recognize the immense importance of forgiving. We know that we have been forgiven, that the ransom has been paid at extremely high cost to rid us of our sins, debts or trespasses. We are commanded to love. We can’t both love and harbor the bitterness of unforgiveness toward the same person in our hearts. I recently wrote about the cost of forgiveness and how it is borne by the person who does the forgiving. (Who bears the cost of forgiveness?)
Sometimes we confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. To reconcile is to restore friendly relations or harmony. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not one and the same. While we cannot have true reconciliation without forgiveness, we can forgive without achieving reconciliation.
It only takes one to forgive
When we forgive we wipe away the sin, debt or trespass. It is no longer owed. That doesn’t mean there is no cost. Most often there is. We can’t later try to “collect” on that particular thing. The forgiveness may or may not have any impact on the one being forgiven. An example would be forgiving someone who broke the windshield of your car. You still bear the cost, but the offender may never know that they’ve been forgiven. What you done is clear out the bitterness. In us humans, forgiveness often does more for the forgiver than the one being forgiven.
When we accept Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, when we become His disciples by following His commands, we receive His grace… unmerited and undeserved. If we are to love one another as He loves us, we must also give forgiveness, grace unconditionally.
It takes two to reconcile
While we can forgive freely and independently, restoring harmony is two-way street. We can’t force anyone else to accept our forgiveness, just as God does not force us to accept His gift of grace. (That’s Free Will at work) For a variety of reasons, reconciliation may not happen and may not even be possible.
Here’s a key thought, my friends:
While forgiveness may pave the path to reconciliation, it CANNOT be a condition for forgiveness. Conditional forgiveness is not grace. In fact, it is not forgiveness at all. It just establishes another contract.
Alive in The Word
My thanks to Pastor Adam whose message is the root of this blog.