"Forgiveness" is an oft-used and frequently mangled, muddied, and misapplied concept within much of Christendom. Many use the term and/or the concept interchangeably or synonymously with reconciliation. This is a mistake. As Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott (Seattle Pacific University) point out in the following excerpt from their fine book, A Good Friend
, forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things (food for thought):
"Trigger-happy forgiveness is not forgiveness at all. Given out quickly, too liberally, forgiveness becomes watered down. The quirks and cranks of our friends’ annoying behaviors do not deserve forgiveness. Generosity? Yes. A sense of humor? Yes. Some tolerance? Yes. But not forgiveness. No. Forgiveness is reserved for a more serious mercy. Not for annoyances but for the deeper wrongs friends do us.
There’s another important point about forgiveness: When a good friend forgives another, it doesn’t guarantee reconciliation. Forgiveness requires something of the offender as well as the offended if it is to restore the relationship. My former professor Lewis Smedes is one of the nation’s leading experts on forgiveness. In his best-selling book Forgive and Forget
, he said something about what it takes to be reconciled after we forgive:
You hold out your hand to someone who did you wrong, and you say: 'Come on back, I want to be your friend again.” But when they take your hand and cross over the invisible wall that their wrong and your pain built between you, they need to carry something with them as the price of their ticket to your second journey together… What must they bring? They must bring truthfulness. Without truthfulness, your reunion is humbug, your coming together is false.'Forgiveness will always heal the wound in our memory, regardless of how a friend responds. But reconciliation requires that our friend own up to the truth of his or her fault and see the pain it caused.
(Emphasis added.) No mask or manipulation is allowed. If you forgive a friend for breaking a confidence and your friends denies it ever happened, the relationship will remain in limbo. There’s no way around it. Reconciliation is a two-way street, requiring both grace and repentance. And good friends know it–whether they are on the giving or receiving side of forgiveness."
Les and Leslie Parrott, A Good Friend,
pp. 75, 76