I think there’s also a difference between having a forgiving spirit and being able to grant forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness and reconciliation is a two party project. You can’t properly forgive someone unless he or she is truly penitent - that is, repentant from the heart. But we’re still called to be willing to forgive others from the heart.
Being wary of another, especially when all the signs point to their repentance being shallow, isn’t the same thing as not being forgiving.
Here is my final comment in the X and Y saga.
One situation I have found challenging is that when Y is unable to let go of a wrong, even as years go by, is it because Y is unforgiving, or is it because the matter has actually not been resolved? I want reconciliation to happen, but I am wary of pressuring people into a false peace.
A clarifying moment happened the other day in a conversation with X in which X said something that made it very obvious to me that X did not have a sense of having personally wronged Y, because if X did have a sense of having personally wronged Y, X would not have said that. I pointed that out to X, and it became clear that X had really been viewing the matter as having sinned against God and did not have real remorse in relation to Y. I don’t think X had been consciously aware of this before I pointed it out, but perhaps Y had been subconsciously aware of it, which is why Y could not let the matter go despite whatever words had been said. X acknowledged that he had personally wronged Y from a biblical standpoint but did not feel it at the heart level, which after some further probing, revealed a lack of complete repentance by X.
I am happy to report that, faster than I expected, the Holy Spirit worked full repentance in X and X made a genuine heartfelt confession and apology to Y. There now appears to be full reconciliation, and although I don’t know for sure, it does seem that Y will now really be able to let the matter go. It goes to show the need for true repentance and the spiritual power of true repentance.
I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness and reconciliation because of a particular situation as well.
In a broken down relationship, if a man claims to want peace, but he is continuing to misrepresent what has happened, factually, because it makes him look bad, what is the other party supposed to do?
I’m not of the opinion that wearing a mask is participating in a lie, but participating in a lie is certainly a sin to be avoided.
If “reconciliation” is dependent on never correcting the facts, which is to say, never forcing the other party to face his own failing in the situation, I’m not sure there is much hope for real reconciliation.
Which is the reason Scripture commands us to take another with us and try again, and then tell it to the church (the elders/session being the church’s representatives). In the end, judgment is what is necessary when there is incomplete acknowledgement or confession of harm done another within the church and the wrong accusation or wrong claim of being sinless in the matter are not sins which love can or should cover.
Submission of the matter to the elders for their judgment, then the rendering of the judgment itself, then submission to that judgment end the matter, but only if both parties are willing to submit to the church. And this is notoriously not the case today. Too often, in the church souls refuse to submit to judgment and elders refuse to judge. Part of the problem is pride and hatred of authority. Part of it is refusal to submit to any authority who is not perfect and perfectly likeable.
Regardless, situations like this under discussion need the elders simply to make their fallible judgment, render them to both parties, then command the parties to submit to their fallible judgments. Love,
“By their fruit ye shall know them,” is our Lord’s rule. By our fruit we shall know ourselves. Apostle John says absence of love of brothers proves we don’t love God.
Fundamental fruit of love is forgiveness. Rehashing and resenting wrongs proves we do not love. If we do not forgive others, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us. Says our Lord Jesus. #fruitfulness
Forgiveness requested cheaply and given cheaply is not true forgiveness. Sin’s pain must be acknowledged by all parties to Christian conflict—both the one asking and the one giving forgiveness. Otherwise cost of our redemption is denied—our Lord’s precious blood.
Our Lord warned: “If you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Do we need God’s mercy for our sins? Do we want God’s mercy for our sins?
The best way to put away bitterness is to keep careful track of our own sins, confessing them to God.