Matthew 5:21-24 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Before we begin a dialogue about the word reconcile, reconciliation or reconciled, it is important to be on the same page as it pertains to a working definition. Now www.dictionary.com is not the final authority on definitions of words, but it will give us a place to agree on in order to dialogue around this subject, that some are in sharp disagreement about. So, here is the definition I found:
|1.||to make (oneself or another) no longer opposed; cause to acquiesce in something unpleasant: she reconciled herself to poverty|
|2.||to become friendly with (someone) after estrangement or to re-establish friendly relations between (two or more people)|
|3.||to settle (a quarrel or difference)|
|4.||to make (two apparently conflicting things) compatible or consistent with each other|
The context for this post is birthed out of Pastor Frank’s sermon last night on unhealed emotions; a friends comments today over lunch and my own personal journey and beliefs about the subject. I know some may disagree, and that is okay, I just want us to be open to hear what others are saying and to hear the context from which they are saying it. These are my thoughts, coming from my context.
To say you forgive someone without being willing to reconcile with them, I do not believe, is biblical forgiveness. I posted this on Facebook today and got a sharp reaction, from someone that has been abused and said, she had forgiven, but was not open to reconciliation. I began to think how can you say you have forgiven someone, but not be willing to reconcile with them? I realized it is because we believe reconciliation means we have to go back to the same level of trust with the person that hurt us. This is not what the Bible is saying, I believe we are to reconcile with people, not just forgive people, even if they have to stay at an arms distance until they show the fruit of their repentance. However, many people have found it easier to just say, I forgive them, but never want to do the hard work of dealing with the pain, and being open to reconciliation, because they could get hurt again.
Forgiveness is a very deep, committed, spiritual truth, that we have made shallow, easy and quick. We say, I forgive you, like we say I love you, it has been cheapened, clichéd and done for selfish reasons. (Hint: if you don’t forgive others, Jesus says you can’t be forgiven) No one wants to be in a place where God does not forgive them, but how do we know the Father forgave us of our sins? He gave Jesus, His son, to the world in order to reconcile us back to God. Hmmmmmmmmmmm, sounds like more than just something we say or do in our hearts, but never let that person close to us again.
Biblical forgiveness is an issue of the heart, not an issue of the mind. We can deceive ourselves to believe we have forgiven someone, but our hearts have not forgiven them. We can know this because we are not willing to be reconciled to them, if they wanted that with us, because we are operating out of unhealed emotions.
Sin is a divider of people, when we get hurt, our first reaction is to get away from that which causes us pain. Being Christians we know, we have to forgive the person, for we are aware of all the destructive things that come from unforgiveness, however, very few people are willing to face the pain or injustice that was done to them, in order to truly forgive from the heart, not just from the head. So, we say, I forgive you and then stay as far away from that person or those people as possible and anyone that says or does anything that may remind us of or resemble the one that hurt us, we push away. All the time being oblivious to the fact that we are living with unhealed emotions, unforgiveness and distance in our relationship with God and others.
Reconciliation is the fruit of forgiveness. We may never be reconciled to some people, not because we are not open to it, but because they never change. But if someone wants to reconcile with you and you are not open to it, I would submit to you that you have unforgiveness which is buried under unhealed emotions. Then Jesus takes it a step further and says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” This is the truth about reconciliation.