February 1, 2013

Forgiveness and Reconciliation


From the book "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend:

"Many people have a problem determining the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation...

"The Bible is clear about two principles: (1) We always need to forgive, but (2) we don't always achieve reconciliation. Forgiveness is something that we do in our hearts; we release someone from a debt that they owe us. We write off the person's debt, and she no longer owes us. We no longer condemn her. She is clean. Only one party is needed for forgiveness: me. The person who owes me a debt does not have to ask my forgiveness. It is a work of grace in my heart. 


"This brings us to the second principle: we do not always achieve reconciliation. God forgave the world, but the whole world is not reconciled to Him. Although He may have forgiven all people, all people have not owned their sin and appropriated His forgiveness. That would be reconciliation. Forgiveness takes one; reconciliation takes two.

"We do not open ourselves up to the other party until we have seen that she has truly owned her part of the problem. So many times Scripture talks about keeping boundaries with someone until she owns what she has done and produces "fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matthew 3:8). True repentance is much more than saying "I'm sorry"; it is changing direction.



"You need to clearly communicate that, while you have forgiven her, you do not trust her yet, for she has not proven herself trustworthy. There has not been enough time to see if she really is going to change.

"Remember, God is your model. He did not wait for people to change their behavior before He stopped condemning them. He is finished condemning, but that does not mean that He has a relationship with all people. People must choose to own up to their sin and repent, then God will open Himself to them. Reconciliation involves two. Do not think that because you have forgiven that you have to reconcile. You can offer reconciliation, but it must be contingent upon the other person owning her behavior and bringing forth trustworthy fruits."

black, couple, forgive, home, house

"God has done all this. 
He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, 
and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships."
--- Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:18

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:54 AM

    Very well said and truth about an issue that has many people in knots and dysfunction because they try to forgive and remain connected to people who won't own up and thus continue to justify their injurious behavior. This leads to cycles of dysfunction and pain. Surely, that is NOT what God wants for His children.