The limits of forgiveness - Hope 103.2

The limits of forgiveness

By David ReayWednesday 24 May 2017LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Romans 12:18

18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV)

This short text clarifies a common misunderstanding about forgiveness. We may mistakenly think that forgiveness necessarily means reconciliation. It does not. Paul properly suggests that peace with others might not be possible.

Forgiveness is in the form of an offer. For it to result in reconciliation, then the offer has to be accepted. If it is not, we have done all we can. We might plead that this leaves us in very uncomfortable situations. God knows just how you feel! Not even God can be at peace with those whom he loves and with those to whom he offers forgiveness. He lives with this pain.

We dare not beat ourselves up for being out of relationship with people when we have done all we can to fix things up. And in particularly abusive relationships, we dare not assume that forgiveness involves exposing ourselves to abuse and letting the person get away with it in the hope that we might be reconciled. Sometimes forgiveness works best at a distance from the person who has hurt us.

One other thing: reconciliation might not lead to restoration. An abusive husband might accept his wife’s offer of forgiveness and yet too much has happened for the marriage to be restored despite a measure of reconciliation. A church treasurer who defrauds the church might repent and be forgiven and be reconciled to those hurt by those actions. Yet he or she will not necessarily be invited back to be treasurer.

Forgiveness is a powerful demonstration of the grace of God in our lives. And yet it is no magic wand.

David Reay

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