Forgiveness And Reconciliation In Human Relationships
Forgiveness is commanded.
Forgiveness is hard. But the follow-up to the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is clear. If we are unwilling to forgive others, we have no reason to expect that God will forgive us .
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you .
Forgiveness isnt necessarily a two-way street.
One problem that many have with forgiveness is that they envision it as a two-way street. They are willing to forgive only when the one who has wronged them repents and seeks forgiveness. But the Scripture puts no such limit on forgiveness.
Quite the contrary. The examples of Jesus and Stephen both demonstrate forgiveness, even when the wrong is occurring. In the midst of their executions, both prayed for the forgiveness of those killing them.
Seek reconciliation where its possible.
While Romans 12:18 does not use the word reconciliation, I believe it does give us explicit instructions about the need for reconciliation. Paul tells us that If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. I should strive for reconciliation. But it may not always be possible.
What Does God Say About Reconciliation
Forgiveness and reconciliation could sum up the entire Bible. Gods Word is all about the forgiveness we have through Christs death on the cross. Its Christs loving sacrifice of His life, for our life, that reconciles us to God. Gods heart is for reconciliation. Furthermore, reconciliation with God gives us peace . When we are reconciled in our relationships, peace and unity prevail.
Forgiveness Is What Makes The God Of The Bible Unique
Where is another God like You, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of His special people? You will not stay angry with Your people forever, because You delight in showing unfailing love. Once again You will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under Your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
Not only is forgiveness at the heart of the biblical story, but the unearned nature of Gods forgiveness is unique. Other worldviews require you to earn your way to God or a higher state of being. Whether its by being particularly good or particularly religious or mastering certain practices, you need to do something if you want to get to that worldviews ultimate goal.
The Bible clearly states that Gods forgiveness is free. He already did all that needed to be done so we can be forgiven and have a relationship with Him forever.
In most worldviews, good works come before you can get the ultimate goal of the worldview. In Christianity, good works come after. All you need to do is to ask God for forgiveness, and He grants you relationship with Him forever in heaven.
Because of the forgiveness we receive, we are commanded to do good and forgive others. Good works are an outflow of forgiveness, not a requirement for obtaining it. There truly is no other God who forgives like the God of the Bible.
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Aug The Difference Between Forgiveness And Reconciliation
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.2 Corinthians 5:18
Some people advise against forgiving someone who wont say Im sorry because they believe that forgiving an unrepentant person invites further abuse. If a wife forgives her philandering husband of his affairs, and he never shows any remorse or repentance, then isnt she giving him permission to continue the affairs? If a boss forgives an employee for embezzling from the company, doesnt he open himself up to the possibility of being stolen from again?
Thats what some people would say. Imagine that you have a teenager who breaks curfew at home. You confront him about it, but he is absolutely unmoved and unwilling to admit that what he did was wrong. Could you forgive him without expecting him to stop abusing the curfew?
I once read about a professor from a Christian university who ran into one of his students while traveling. He discovered that the student was having an affair with another woman while his wife was at home. The professor reminded the student that God would certainly discipline him for his sinful disobedience. The student responded nonchalantly, I expect God to forgive me. Thats His job. Thats what a lot of people think. They think, I can do whatever I want because God will forgive me. Thats His responsibility. That illustrates the danger of forgiving somebody who shows absolutely no remorse.
Forgiveness And Reconciliation Defined
We are instructed a number of times in the Bible to forgive others. It was an explicit part of Jesus model prayer in Matthew 6:7-15. Forgive is the Greek word aphimi, meaning to send away, dismiss, suffer to depart to emit, send forth. In relation to an offense against us, it means that we dismiss it, or send it away. We do not hold onto that offense, harboring it in our hearts. Instead, we treat it as if it had not occurred.
The word reconciliation is less commonly used. And generally, at least in the Scripture, it deals with the relationship between God and humanity. Reconciliation is the Greek word katallag, meaning an exchange, reconciliation, restoration to favor.
Reconciliation assumes a broken relationship. Something hashappened that has caused two parties to become estranged. The two might havebeen friends. It might be a business relationship. Or it might be as intimateas marriage. But there is now something between them.
The Relationship Between Reconciliation and Forgiveness
Reconciliation involves forgiveness. But it goes beyondforgiveness. When I forgive someone, there is no guarantee that we will have arestored relationship. It may well be that even after I have forgiven someonethat we remain estranged. Reconciliation, however, restores the relationship.
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What Are Some Other Examples Of Reconciliation In The Bible
The Bible is peppered with numerous other stories of reconciliation.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is one of the most profound examples. Joseph, favored son of Jacob, or Israel, was hated by his jealous brothers, beaten, cast into a pit, and sold into slavery . Joseph was utterly wronged, and by the worlds standards, had no cause to make peace with his brothers. But decades later, after Joseph had risen to power as governor of Egypt , he exhibited extravagant, fully unexpected generosity by not only forgiving his brothers but enabling them to have a new and prosperous life with him .
King David, described as a man after Gods heart , is another powerful example of reconciliation. David loved God and had complete faith in Him, which we see from his slaying of the giant Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 to the way he constantly sought Gods wisdom in battles and political warfare. His heart pointed toward God throughout his lifetime.
Another example is the prophet Jonah, who fled from Gods command that he preach to the Ninevites and spent three days in the belly of a whale before he repented, reconciled with God, and did as he was told.
And Jesus used the parable of the prodigal son to illuminate the importance of reconciliation how, even though this son had left the fold of his family and squandered his fortune in what the Bible called wild living, his father welcomed him back with open arms upon his return and encouraged his older brother to do the same.
Bible Verses About Forgiveness
While forgiveness is difficult, its the key to releasing freedom, peace, and life in your life. There is a reason the word shows up all over the Bible. Its not a suggestion, its a command intended to bring you life. Here are some Bible verses about forgiveness.
The Motivation Behind Forgiveness
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
Of all the Bible verses about forgiveness, this one is really important because it explains why Christians are called to forgive. God is not calling them to do anything He hasnt done, in fact, He is calling them to emulate Him. As an all-perfect Creator, He is worthy of worship and obedience. However, humanity sinned, rebelling against their all-powerful creator.
Instead of sending an asteroid to smash earth, God showed mankind grace by sending His Son to be their mediator. He bore humanitys sin and suffering on the cross so all of mankind could approach the throne of grace. This is the single greatest act of Gods forgiveness in the Bible.
The rich themes of forgiveness running throughout Scriptures originate in this moment. What it is important for Christians to realize is that as forgiven people, they are called to forgive. God is not satisfied with His people receiving forgiveness while harboring bitterness and grudges.
White as Snow
Others Will Notice
Forgiveness, Not Judgement
The Root of a Forgiving Heart
Confession is Necessary
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A Story Of Estrangement
The book of Genesis tells us that humans were created in the image of God, walking in perfect harmony with Him and each other. Because we distrusted Gods authority and goodness, we severed that relationship. This resulted in hostility with God and creation. But it also created enmity among all humankind.
This is what prompted Paul to declare, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . Its not just that humans were guilty of sin, but they fell short of the very thing for which they were created: revealing Gods glory.
The Old Testament tells the story of God fashioning a nation called Israel. This nation would serve as missionaries to the world, demonstrating Gods goodness and character to the surrounding nations. But the relationship between God and Israel was often a tug of war. Gods law helped provide the necessary guardrails to keep His relationship with the Jews functional, but they still demonstrated a tendency to go their own way and do their own thing.
This created a constant cycle of disobedience, judgment, and repentance throughout the Old Testament. Gods relationship with His people was maintained by His patient commitment to Israel and not by the depth of their faithfulness.
So If Forgiveness Doesnt Mean Reconciliation Then What Is Reconciliation And When Do We Do It
Reconciliation is when you take a damaged relationship and heal it. When people go through the reconciliation process right, the relationship has the potential to be even stronger than it was before.
Conversely, when the reconciliation process is circumvented by well-meaning but patch-it-up-quick folks, the hurt party can become resentful over time, and the relationship isnt healed its more deeply damaged.
Reconciliation is not a requirement. Its the desired outcome, but it can only truly take place when four things have happened:
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Forgiveness And Compassion: A Story From Rwanda
If youre finding it hard to forgive, you may be encouraged by Methodes testimony.
Methode was only 6-years-old when the Rwandan genocide occurred, during which, both of his parents were murdered.
Looking back, Methode says, The biggest thing that happened to me, that the government would not have managed to give me, is forgiving my parents killers.
“God convinced me that I would not be any different if I revenged. I thank Compassion, and my sponsor because they introduced me to knowing God bit by bit, until I got born again and my family followed on. My project helped me discover my singing and leadership talent. I am learning to accept Gods love for me and in the end, I know He is enough.
Because I was a sponsored child, I went to the church project every week. Through the regular project activities like singing, games, praying together and reading the Bible, I started to realise that I could get peace from God.
We invite you to consider sponsoring a child like Methode and giving them real hope for the future. Your sponsorship will enable them to go to a local church project every week where they can come to know the grace and peace of God for themselves.
What Is Forgiveness And Why Is It Important
Forgiveness is defined as canceling a debt. As Christians, our debt was canceled through Christs death on the cross. In other words, we are released from the punishment of our sins. Therefore, we are called to release others from their sin as well.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Forgiveness is a choice we make to release others from our punishment. Its a choice to entrust the offense to God. Consequently, it requires nothing from the person who hurt you. They dont have to be sorry or change it all in order for you to forgive them.
Forgiveness does not bring instant healing or a warm fuzzy feeling. It doesnt mean you tolerate or excuse wrong behavior, either. In fact, there are a lot of things forgiveness is not.
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Becoming Ministers Of Reconciliation
Jesuss sacrifice was the beginning of Gods great work to make peace with His creation. Those who decide to follow Jesus become part of this process. This is what Paul tells the Corinthian church:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting peoples sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christs ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christs behalf: Be reconciled to God .
When we come to Jesus, were transformed and equipped to become ministers of reconciliation. What that means is that we dont just receive the gift of peace with God, but we also inherit the responsibility to share that gift with others. As Paul says, God is at work reconciling the world to Himself in Christ. And the church is His ambassadors, inviting the world to come and be reconciled with the King.
This is why the church has been commissioned to fulfill the Great Commission. It is through us that God makes His appeal to the world to come and live in harmony with God.
What Does The Bible Say About Forgiveness And Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5:18
What does the Bible say about forgiveness and reconciliation? Its the right question to ask because of all the places to look, the Bible is absolutely jammed packed with relevant information regarding the connection between forgiveness and reconciliation.
Whats the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation? Must you always reconcile to forgive? Do you need both people to choose forgiveness for it to occur? Do you need both people to choose to be reconciled? The Bible answers all of these questions about forgiveness and reconciliation.
The Bible Says Forgiveness and Reconciliation Are Connected but Are Not the Same
The Bible commands that we must always forgive people their wrongs against us no matter how great the offense. We have always sinned against God more than others have sinned against us, and since God offers his forgiveness regardless of our offenses he expects us to do the same .
You can forgive people who have hurt you deeply but sometimes it is not always possible or right to reconcile with abusive, hurtful, or unrepentant people. The Bible says forgiveness is a choice one individual came make without the consent of another. The Bible also says, however, that reconciliation needs two parties to both agree on forgiveness and the restoration of the relationship.
According to the Bible, you can have forgiveness without reconciliation. However, you cannot have reconciliation without forgiveness.
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How To Move From Forgiveness To Reconciliation
He said I am sorry, but its at least the tenth time! I dont know what to do. I am told that its my Christian duty to forgive, and the Lord knows Ive tried. But each time I forgive him, he changes for a little while and then returns to the same behavior. I have a gut feeling I am handling things the wrong way. He never really changes, and I just get angrier. What should I do?
Sound familiar? I encounter people all the time who are trying to forgive someone who has repeatedly hurt them. They know its their Christian duty to forgive, but they often feel theyre either being deceived or taken advantage of. They also have a disturbing sense that theyre enabling the selfish behavior of the very one theyre trying to forgive. Is this what forgiveness requires?
Is it possible to forgive someone and to withhold reconciliation? We must learn the differences between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is always required by God, but it does not always lead to reconciliation.
Important Bible Verses About Forgiveness
Forgiveness is one of the most fundamental teachings in Scripture. Bible verses about forgiveness can be found throughout the Old and New Testament as one of the defining themes of the Bible. Forgivenesss finest moment is Christs death on the cross, where He sacrifices Himself so He can, in turn, forgive us for our sins. Anyone familiar with the Bible knows that forgiveness is one of its key principles.
Because of this, seeing an act of forgiveness is feels like catching a glimpse of bigfoot or a leprechaun. Its there for a moment and then dissipates back to grudges, bitterness, and anger.
However, as you read Scripture what becomes clear is that even though the Bible highlights forgiveness as necessary, many Christians and non-Christians alike agree to disagree.
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