True forgiveness involves restoration and reconciliation. And though we know this, we sometimes fail to do it. But why do we decide not to work toward reconciliation? (Because, yes, reconciliation does take work.) We want to punish our enemy.
Sure, we forgave them.But that doesn’t mean they should get off scott-free, does it? They need to see the seriousness of what they’ve done. And to pay somehow. But instead of punishing our enemy, we really only punish ourselves.
Perhaps he or she has realized their wrong and asked our forgiveness.
That person is now free. But if we allow resentment to fester, we cut ourselves off from freedom. We are not free to move on, or in our other relationships. The nagging fear that others could also treat us wrong keeps us from really opening up.
Or perhaps the enemy feels he’s done no wrong. It does happen.
But why try to punish him when he’s already punishing himself enough? He has to live with his guilty conscience and severed relationships. Both between others and the Lord. Until he makes things right, he will know no peace. But when we truly forgive and make things right, we move into peace and freedom, and beyond the bitterness.
I’ve forgiven her, but that doesn’t mean I have to go around her.
Truly loving our enemies means loving them as God loves us. We who were once his enemies. Undeserving of forgiveness, he forgave us anyway. And even built a relationship with us, friends with whom he seeks communion.
When we choose to verbally or mentally ‘forgive’, without working toward reconciliation, we think “All’s OK.” When likely we are simply avoiding that person.
Have you heard the saying, “He’s his own worst enemy?” Have you ever been your own enemy?
That’s what we become when we fail to work toward reconciliation. We don’t avoid the other, but shut ourselves in with them! Into a prison of our own making.
Because that person is with us all the time! In our thoughts as we try to sleep. Upon awakening. Even under the shower. As we fume and fret, that person becomes a plague. An ever-present problem that doesn’t go away. A problem we’ve made.
We justify our actions, even when we are partly to blame. Because, we think, the other person did more wrong.
In most personal conflicts some blame rests on both parties. Maybe the other did more wrong. Gossiped, while you remained silent. Or lied and you were truthful.
But the problem here is that God doesn’t measure only actions. He measures our heart.
OK, so they gossiped about us. But have we, in our heart, killed them? Or it was they who lied, not us. But perhaps we plot revenge.
Even if we never do the evil our heart plans, internally, we are just as evil as others.
This should pull us straight to our knees. Both before the other person and before God. We paint our enemy out as a blackguard, while white-washing our own heart. But God sees through them both.
Reconciliation takes work, but it’s worth the effort.
- It keeps us from becoming our own enemy.
- After all, who wants more enemies?
- It keeps us from becoming bitter and resentful.
- And it restores our joy, peace, and true tranquility.
When God tells us do something, he has a purpose in it.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, (Luke 6:35).
He wants us to love our enemies, not only because it’s what he does. And because it can set our enemies free. But because he also wants to make us free, whole, and at peace. With both God and man.
Do you need to start working toward reconciliation with someone? Why not start now?