There is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is always required by God. Reconciliation is not.
Is it possible to forgive someone and remain unreconciled? Yes. Reconciliation means repenting and restoring a broken relationship. Forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation.
Jesus didn’t require people to be sorry before He forgave them. On the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive those who put Him there, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). These people crucified their Savior, and He extended forgiveness to them without being sorry.
However, Jesus didn’t say those He had extended forgiveness to were in a right relationship with Him. They could only have restoration in their relationship with Him if they repented from their sin.
Reconciliation requires repentance.
If someone is unwilling to repent, we are still required to forgive them, but the relationship can’t be restored unless there is reconciliation. While there may be forgiveness, the relationship remains broken until there is acknowledgement of the offense and repentance from the sin.
It should always be our desire to be reconciled to people. That’s the heart Jesus has for every single person. However, we are only responsible for our own part in a conflict. The scripture instructs us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18).
Notice two things about this verse:
1. Paul wrote, “If possible,” which means sometimes it won’t be possible.
2. He said, “As far as it depends on you,” which means there is another side. There is an “as much as it depends on them.”
Before the Lord we are only responsible for doing what we can on our end to have peaceable relationships with people. Sometimes, because of what depends on them, living at peace is not possible.
It is okay to grieve what sin has destroyed, but don’t remain in the grief.Process the reality of what has happened, with your heart set on eventual restoration. Jesus knows what it is like to be betrayed and sinned against by those He loves most. Go to Him with your burden, seek out wise counsel, and pursue restoration, as much as it depends on you.
May God help us to be women who do all we can to seek peace with all men, and when that is not possible, to rest confidently in Him who sees all things and does not stop working miracles.