Sin separates us from God. When we sin, going against what the Bible says, we are actually telling God that we don’t want to do things His way. We are insulting Him. In order to atone for our sins, Jesus died for us. He died for a people that didn’t accept Him. They mocked Him and beat Him, and yet He chose to forgive them. He chose to die for their sins, for our sins, so that we could have a restored relationship with God.
Knowing what I’ve done to my Lord and Savior brings me to tears. The ways I mocked Him and willingly disobeyed Him form a rock in my stomach at the thought of them. Yet He still chose to forgive me. He chose to seek reconciliation in our relationship. Now I am able to have a restored relationship.
I also have a new power: I have the power, through Christ, to forgive others. I no longer have to hold grudges. I no longer have to let the bitterness of what others have done to me cloud the vision of the abundant life God has for me.
Forgiveness is a choice. In reality, forgiveness has almost nothing to do with the other person, but everything to do with how you respond to it. How do you respond to it? You process how you feel, surrender the pain to God, remember how God forgave us through the sacrifice of Christ, and choose to love that person. Then, you do whatever you can to make peace with the person.
But what if your offender is unrepentant? What if the pain is so intense, that you can’t move on from it?
Well, forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice. The more you surrender it to God, the more you will be able to find freedom from the hurt that your offender caused you. But you have another choice, a choice to be made after forgiveness.
That choice is called reconciliation.
This article shares some great steps to take to reconcile a broken relationship. Forgiveness is always possible, but reconciliation isn’t always necessarily possible. Reconciliation is a restored relationship. It requires two people to come together and discuss what happened, and it requires trust to be established again.
In your marriage, reconciliation is necessary for your marriage to work. You need to forgive your spouse for the little offenses that he commits on a regular basis, and you need to bring these offenses to his attention so that you can continue to have a relationship together. And when someone outside of the marital relationship hurts you, your spouse can be a support to you in helping forgive and to possibly make reconciliation a possibility.
While some argue that true reconciliation is not possible, I believe it is possible to try. I believe that, as ministers of reconciliation, that seeking to restore a relationship should be our default answer. You may not have the exact same relationship you had before the offense happened, but you can seek peace with your offender if you want it. But, if you don’t want it, you don’t have to enter into that relationship again. For example, if you’ve been hurt severely, whether through divorce, abuse, or adultery, you may not want to restore that relationship.
Unfortunately, however, you may still have to interact with your offender. If you’re divorced, and you have kids with your ex-spouse, you still have to keep him or her involved in your children’s lives. If a family member sexually abused you but the family doesn’t know about it (or any other complicated circumstances), your abuser may still be invited to parties. In order to still be civil with these people you are required to see, you have to implement boundaries. You cannot ever enter that same intimacy, whether physical or emotional, you had with the person that hurt you. Don’t share too much personal information with him. Don’t spend prolonged (or any) time alone with her. Make sure you bring a trusted friend or family member with you when you have to interact with him.
No matter if you choose to reconcile the relationship or not, seek peace. Pray for your offender. Wouldn’t it be amazing if God worked in his or her life and actually changed his or her life because of what happened? God’s grace and mercy are not too weak to forgive and redeem the people who hurt us. He can soften their hearts and help them to see the error of their ways.
Who do you need to forgive today? With whom is God nudging you to reconcile?