Forgiveness Is Not Reconciliation!

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 in Forgiveness | 0 comments

Forgiveness Is Not Reconciliation!

Many people have the mistaken idea that forgiveness is the same as reconciliation. This is far from the truth. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two very separate actions.

Forgiveness has to do with the removal or release of a debt; reconciliation has to do with restoring friendship or harmony between two people, i.e., repairing a broken relationship.

Thoughts by professional counselors

  • Reconciliation is the offender’s responsibility and occurs when the offender recognizes his or her wrong and takes actions to correct the offending behavior (Freedman & Enright).
  • Because reconciliation has to do with resuming the relationship, it carries complex considerations about the nature of the bond between people, whether of blood, marriage or friendship. The obligation towards a child, for example, carries a different expectation from a friendship. Reconciliation also raises questions about depth of attachment and the risk of further hurt. Forgiveness is always possible, while not all relationships continue to be viable (Harry Aponte).
  • Note holders can forgive their offender, but they cannot reconcile the offender to themselves unless the offender cooperates. Reconciliation requires the offenders to come to the place where they are willing to confess the error of their way. Along with this confession, the offender must give evidence of genuine brokenness and contrite heart, seek restoration and restitution. If the offender does not admit his or her wrong and accept full responsibility for it, reconciliation is not possible (Ed Smith).
  • For reconciliation to take place, some groundwork must take place. Some type of event must happen in the spirit of each person, the offender and the offended. This creates opportunities for reconciliation of the people (Unknown).

Reconciliation requires God’s guidance

When it comes to reconciliation, we must be led by the Spirit of God, otherwise we might make things worse. We must go to the Lord and ask for His wisdom and knowledge about how to handle our different situations. Sometimes there may be a timing involved, or perhaps the Lord might not want us to try and fix the broken relationship, for reasons we know not.

We are instructed to “Be at peace with others as far as we are able” (Romans 12:18). But apparently there are situations in which it is not possible.

“Take him back”

Years ago a co-worker decided he no longer wanted to work alongside us. A few months later, he changed his mind and wanted to come back. A friend exerted pressure on me to take the man back. Feeling unsure, I went to the Lord for direction.

As I opened the Bible, my eyes fell on Acts 15:37-40 and I read: “Barnabas was desirous of taking John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia … There arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.”

I knew how the Lord wanted me to handle this: No, I was not to take him back.

Remember, forgiveness is focused on the debt (unjust offense), not the debtor (offender). The power to forgive lies totally in the hands of the one who holds the note of debt. But reconciliation is a completely different matter. Confusing these two spiritual realities results in problems.

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