"I forgive him. I just don't want anything to do with him any more!"
What should we do when we feel obligated to forgive but too deeply hurt to restore a relationship with the one who hurt us?
Sometimes people feel this way because they don't understand the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. This misunderstanding often leads to a cheap version of forgiveness and unresolved anger and guilt. It also encourages the tendency to enable people in destructive behaviors.
When serious offenses drive people apart, the offended person is required to forgive her offender based on God's forgiveness of her own sins (see: Ephesians 4:32).
This act of forgiveness is not optional. Jesus said: "When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25).
And this forgiveness does not depend on a request from the offender to be forgiven. This is forgiveness based on your relationship with God, not your offender. It is a way of recognizing God as the final judge. It surrenders the desire for revenge by honoring God as the one who holds the right to repay and punish evil (see: Romans 12:17-21).
Differing from forgiveness, however, reconciliation is a process conditioned on the attitudes and actions of ...
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