Forgiveness is vertical in nature. It is between you and God primarily. Forgiveness is not optional, it is commanded by God regardless of a person’s state of heart or worthiness. Reconciliation is an entirely different matter. You can forgive someone without their changing, but you cannot be reconciled to them.
The Difference Between Forgiveness and Reconciliation.
Forgiveness is vertical in nature. It is between you and God primarily. Forgiveness is not optional, it is commanded by God regardless of a person’s state of heart or worthiness. Jesus said in Mark, chapter 11, verses 24-25, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Notice it doesn’t say forgive those who have changed, or who have promised to change, we are to forgive anyone, anything, in order that no barrier in our hearts exist between God and ourselves.
Jesus modeled this unconditional forgiveness for even His enemies, when minutes after hanging Him on the Cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
Reconciliation is an entirely different matter. You can forgive someone without their changing, but you cannot be reconciled to them. Reconciliation is based on five conditions that all begin with “R” and they are:
- Responsibility: The offending party takes full responsibility for their sin and says with sincerity, “I did it.”
- Remorse: The offending party feels the pain of what they have done and says with sincere sorrow, “I feel badly that I did it.’
- Repentance: The offending party sees the wrong of what they have done and undergoes a sincere change of heart, “I won’t do it again.’
- Restitution: The offending party deeply desires to try and restore what he has taken or destroyed and asks with sincerity, “How can I make it right?”
- Request: The offending party asks with sincere humility, “Will you accept my apology for doing it?”
The Five “R’s” are adapted by Bob and Cheryl Moeller from Dr. Gary Chapman’s Five Languages of an Apology
Remember, marriage is for better for worse for keeps.
For Better, For Worse, For Keeps Ministries © 2013