All offences come from the ‘old self’. The kingdom principle of being released from offence, is forgiveness.
Unforgiveness hardens the heart, prevents us maturing, and stops our spiritual growth.
The first person you might need to forgive is yourself, then you can forgive others more easily.
Forgiveness keeps the heart healthy, because it releases hurt and any bitterness that can usually harden the heart.
Forgiveness is also a necessary part of the reconciliation process, joined to taking ownership of our own wrongs and being remorseful in our own acknowledgement, if we’ve played a role, of our part in the equation.
Misconceptions about Forgiveness
Reconciliation is about setting things right, but that does not always mean that all relationships will necessarily be restored to their former place in your life. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you might engage the same way with the people you forgive.
Sometimes this is just not possible, but forgiveness is still the most important key to peace in your life, and releasing people and yourself from hurt, and is also the key to keep the heart softened without bitterness and/or resentment coming in.
It’s important to know this because there is a misconception about the process of forgiveness and reconciliation always ending in a certain result, which is that with reconciliation and forgiveness in the Christian’s life, all relationships will be restored to the place they were previously in your life.
In most situations and with relationships we treasure most, our desire would be that we would want full reconciliation with those we love. This is in most cases what we all want.
But there are factors that might lead to forgiving someone but choosing not to have them in your life any longer or not to have the same kind of relationship you’ve had with them previously for many reasons, whether it be differences in ethical/moral values or otherwise, we can legitimately make these decisions and still forgive.
Sometimes, we can think people are on the same page as us but when the pressure is on, we can find out their motives are insincere or masked in other issues that may have come up in their own lives that affect us negatively.
Forgive them anyway, and then feel at peace to move on understanding that as sincere as you may be, forgiveness does not always include having to re-engage the same way in contact or otherwise with those you have forgiven. Praying for wisdom, discernment, and including some godly counsel if necessary, will help.
We will always desire full reconciliation with those we love
We must do everything that we can to bring this about, according to what Jesus teaches us about this in His Word.
But a side note that’s important here: For most of us, reconciliation and forgiveness is a vital part of our lives because none of us want to lose relationships we value because of pride, especially as believers.
Often through our own brokenness / struggles, pride can be a huge stumbling block to forgiveness and we must be aware of that, otherwise what I call “the silent killer”, resentment, will creep in and devour us.
We must have a healthy balance and understand what loving someone means. It is not always possible for it to mean re-establishing the relationship as it was in this context of reconciliation, especially if the other party refuses to acknowledge or repent of the hurt, betrayal or otherwise that they may have caused.
Therefore, the ‘relationship’ might be different now and might not have any further engagement, apart from an acquaintance level. We still forgive anyway!
Jesus’ entire ministry was one of compassion, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. We sometimes try to emulate Him, but, in our imperfection, we can mix it up and misunderstand forgiveness and have misconceptions of what that means, causing some to not forgive in case that means we are somehow ‘forced’ to engage again in the ‘same way’ as before, as I’ve discussed above.
What about in the case of abuse, sexual, emotional or otherwise? This is a prime example of being able to forgive the perpetrator and never has to involve engaging with them again. Although if he is a family member that might require other intervention ( I’ve deliberately used ‘he’ in this case as over 95% of rape, sexual abuse is perpetrated by males).
Sometimes, we miss that Jesus also practiced ‘tough love’. He always loved but there were some that he loved from a distance not because of where he was, but because of where they were.
Even if you love someone, having toxic people around you is not good for your spirit or soul. If they are that close to you and want to change, and have apologised even as you forgive them, if they are that close, it might be better to let someone else invest in counselling them. You don’t need to necessarily be involved in ‘helping’ them simply because you are close; that can also prove toxic.
So, forgive and love, but understand that God has given us common sense and discernment to have healthy boundaries where necessary. Enabling someone is not “loving” them; it’s helping destroy them.
Releasing people to the Lord, in love and forgiveness, is what it’s about. Understanding the different aspects of forgiveness, both scripturally and emotionally, and incorporating them into God’s love, is important in how we move forward.
2 Cor 5:18-19 (NIV)
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting peopleʼs sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Therefore we cannot count people’s sins against them. We must forgive, irrespective; reconcile what can be reconciled, then move forward.
This is what Jesus teaches in the Word. We must walk in love. To love, we must forgive. To walk in total freedom, forgiveness is necessary.
1John 1:7-8 (NIV)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
It’s a season of reconciliation. Go and forgive, as Jesus has forgiven you.
Apostle Deborah Bell
Lead Apostle, DGFC & DG Apostolic Network