What is the purpose of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is love. Forgiveness is a kind of love that works primarily to build, strengthen and restore relationships. Parents, children, spouses, friends, brothers suffer from broken relationships. The world will be a better place to live in if everyone could forgive and repent.
To be willing to forgive does not mean to forgive. Be willing to forgive the Unrepentant and seek not to repay evil for evil. Forgive the Repentant, cancel the debt he owes you, and win the relationship.
Reconciliation is meant to bring the sinner to repentance and restore him to the path of righteousness. The person who repents is redeemed from the hands of sin and death. Always pray for the wicked that they would repent of their evil ways.
The Lord Jesus paid for the sin of the whole world. He is willing to forgive the whole mankind. He grants forgiveness only to those who repent of their sins. The sinner receives forgiveness only when he repents of his sins and turns back to God. Without repentance, a man cannot be reconciled to God even though God is willing and ready to forgive him in Christ Jesus.
Reason Why Relationships Fail
No relationship can survive without repentance and forgiveness. We will always hurt others. There must always be repentance and forgiveness. Relationships fail primarily because:
- People do not communicate their hurt to others
- People do not like being told of their wrongdoings
- People are not willing to forgive
- People do not forgive
- People do not repent
If someone hurts you, go to him, and with a forgiving heart (not with a dominating, critical, accusing heart), tell him his wrong or rebuke him. The offender must be careful to listen to the offended and seek to make amends either by apologizing and/or by taking corrective actions. If the offender repents, the offender must forgive him and restore the relationship.
What if you are willing to forgive and be reconciled but the offender refuses to repent?
If the offender is unrepentant after you have told him of his wrong, his debt remains. You should continue to love him, but you must not remain close to him. If you are bound to offender for life e.g. marriage, you cannot divorce him, but you must be careful not to keep too much intimacy with a serpent or wolf. Serpent and wolves always bite. Forgiving and keeping intimacy with an unrepentant person would have devastating consequences:
1) Nurturing a human monster: The offender will continue and grow in his evil works. Sooner, it will become more difficult to redeem him or the relationship.
2) Willfully giving yourself to torture: God wants us to be in good health both in body and soul. Abuse (Verbal, emotional, physical) and all wickedness and selfishness are deadly to the human soul.
God is willing and ready to forgive the whole world (he does not want to punish anyone), but He forgives and reconciles to Himself only those who repent. We must imitate Him.
Can I love someone who has hurt me deeply?
Yes, you can. The repentant offender needs grace, unmerited favor, mercy. Show him unmerited favor and purposely set your heart on him/her again and gradually trust him as you see more changes in him. Love hopes for the best. Always remember that God did not only forgive your wrongs, but He also poured His love on you by receiving you back wholeheartedly. If you are unable to love like God, then you must pray earnestly for God to help you have a forgiving heart. When we forgive from the heart, painful memories lose power. We must pray till we are able to forgive the offender from the heart (not from the head).
What if he apologizes all the time but keeps doing wrong?
If he apologizes, we must be quick to forgive (Mathew 18.21-35). Many are weak in character and do many wrong things. To love such people means to forgive them always as often as they apologize, while praying to God for them to have a change of character. However, we must be careful on the level of trust we put on them.