Forgiveness is a word that conjures up a lot of different emotions for most people – particularly depending whether you are on the giving side or the receiving side of the equation. We are told that God requires us to forgive one another, but are there conditions that must be present?
We say that holding on to un-forgiveness or resentments is like swallowing poison but expecting the other person to die. Perhaps in His mercy, God does not want us to suffer the pain of this condition — and that is why He requires forgiveness. When the forgiveness needed is for oneself, it is particularly meaningful.
Does forgiveness require reconciliation?
The answer is emphatically NO! Reconciliation is a choice and certain conditions need to be met in order to be reconciled.
First of all we need a sincere apology – we need to know that the person is truly sorry and does not intend to hurt us in this way again. Then there is making amends. Is the offending person willing to make things right in any way possible? Can we be confident that the person will make both the attitude and behavioral changes necessary? If so then reconciliation might be possible.
Lastly, an authentic apology is not an account or an appeasement.
- An account is just admitting what we did – anyone will do that especially if we have been “caught”.
- Appeasement is reciting what we know the other person wants to hear in an effort to stop them from being mad at us or taking punitive steps.
- An apology is heartfelt (they understand the depth of wound they inflicted), and as stated above carries with it the intention of change.
The good news is that real healing can take place when sincere apologies are met with an attitude of forgiveness. So where do you stand? Is there an action step that you need to take?