Dear Friends: Last week I focused on forgiving anyone who offends you. Remember forgiveness is about setting us free! If we choose not to forgive, then we stay chained to the very thing or person that hurt us. God commands us to forgive because it’s good for our health. But let’s be clear, forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation or the continuation of the relationship. I am speaking to all relationships, not just the romantic kind, but also your friends and family members as well. Every one of them is important, and requires love and attention.
This is what truth Pastor Rick Warren says about truth of forgiveness: “Let me explain what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness does not mean the instant restoration of trust. Forgiveness is instant. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Forgiveness is based on grace. Trust is built on works. You earn trust. You don’t earn forgiveness.”
You get the picture? Forgiveness can always be given and needs to be for your own health (not to mention for the Body of Christ). This is often the first step, but it is distinct from the actual rebuilding of a relationship. That depends on two people. The other person involved needs to take responsibility for their part and be willing to put action towards doing what is necessary to repair the breech. However, there are some folks in our lives that will not want to change, and no cajoling, sweet-talking or manipulating from you will change that. ONLY God knows that heart (1 Kings 8:38-39). There are some instances in which the best course of action is separation. This may be needed or advisable when there are unhealthy boundaries, abuse, or unrepentant hearts.
If you are in a situation where you have forgiven, but nothing appears to be changing in the relationship, then, together with a counselor or accountability partner, sincerely seek God’s face and His word to see how to proceed. Is reconciliation possible? In our ‘quick fix’ society we often jump to the conclusion that they are not. We need to take the time to honestly allow God to search our own hearts; seek wisdom and through the power of the Holy Spirit, hear God’s heart and listen to His guidance regarding the relationship. Then, and only then, will you be able to determine whether the relationship can be salvaged. Leave the outcome of the relationship to God.
So forgive. It is that simple. No matter the outcome, we can leave a legacy of peace through forgiveness. And this, my friend, is only dependent on our own obedience to the word of God. His ways are best! Obey and be blessed!
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18