As we understand from God's written word, Christ's ministry of reconciliation is something in which believers of Jehovah God participated and from which all of us have benefitted because of God's grace upon us.
But first let me try to define the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation as many believers do not forgive because they are afraid that forgiving someone means immediately shaking hands and becoming close friends with one who has hurt them. So, in order not to appear hypocritical, they do not want to forgive till they feel good about the wrongdoer....which may take some time yet. This sort of misunderstanding of the two words have therefore hindered many sincere Christians from forgiving their offenders and hence retard their growth as God's child. Hence:
The Difference between Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Forgiveness is a one-way street of grace extended by the person wronged to the wrongdoer. The wrong doer may not deserve your forgiveness, nor can she earn it. Yet, just as God has extended His grace of forgiveness to us unconditionally, so we need to extend His grace of forgiveness unconditionally to those who have hurt us.
Reconciliation on the other hand, is a two-way street of friendship between two persons or parties that were once at enmity. This event requires both parties to want to be friends.
For example, Jesus Christ forgave those who murdered Him before they even knew that they had sinned against Him.
Reconciliation, however, is effected only when the sinner acknowledges his sins, receives Jesus' forgiveness and then becomes His friends.
In the same manner, God expects us to take the initiative to forgive our wrongdoers even if the other person does not know that he has wronged us.
We see, therefore, that forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation e.g. an abused person may not be able to meet her abuser who has not repented.
Nevertheless, as God's children , we need to always seek for reconciliation if the person is alive...BUT WAIT FOR GOD'S TIMING. Do not put false guilt on the forgiver by asking him to guarantee reconciliation. We need to be patient with others as God is so patient with us. Look at what the Son of God did, focus on the cross and consider the time lapse before we sinners, one by one down the generations, received Him as our Saviour and Friend.
[taken from Forgiveness and Reconciliation, a ReconRe Publication]
About the Author:
Dr. Lee Bee Teik is the founding director of Reconre Ministries. She earlier laid down the practice of medicine to be with her children. In 1992, the Lord called her to the writing ministry and then to minister to His fulltime workers through pastoral counselling and quiet retreats. Her other areas of service include the training of lay pastoral counsellors and the facilitating of personal or small group quiet retreats and seminars. Dr Lee was married to Bishop Emeritus Hwa Yung of the Methodist Church in Malaysia and they have three adult children. Sadly she was taken home to the Lord on 11-June-2022. Her writings and books will continue to be made available here for download.