[This is the fourth installment from our friend’s essay on forgiveness. Many thanks to her once again] –
Another aspect we see in God’s forgiveness is that it does not remove consequences in this life. David sinned twice, with Bathsheba and when he numbered the people. Both times God forgave him, but also gave him some kind of consequences afterwards. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church and after he repented, he ended up getting the persecutions he inflicted on others. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. God forgave Moses when he disobeyed, and gave him consequences. God really does have a way to make sure that no one gets away with sin or makes light of sin. He’s incredibly just, while He forgives. This is how we show GRACE to someone who has sinned. The cancer must be rooted out, not ignored.
To sum it all up to this point, God’s forgiveness teaches us that it is a transaction between two parties, that it’s essentially a pardoning of guilt, it requires repentance and justice—the debt must be paid for, it does not eliminate consequences, and it leads to reconciliation—of some kind.
This is the part that gets tricky with people relationships. There is room for discernment here because there are situations where a relationship should not be restored. It is possible to violate a person so deeply that it would be unwise to restore that relationship. For example, rape or adultery against another person— if by some miracle the perpetrator repents this does not mean that the two people involved need to be friends or in any kind of relationship again. If such a person does repent, I would consider it “reconciliation” to merely acknowledge the offender’s genuine repentance if the evidence is there.
Or a situation where someone is getting divorced for being abused. Let’s say hypothetically the abuser repents, even then the fact that that marriage covenant was violated so horribly to the core, it would be right for the offender to accept the consequences of the divorce permanently. If it were even possible for the abuser to repent in that case, and gets saved for real this time, I would consider it “reconciliation” to think of this offender as no longer an enemy. That’s it. Sometimes being on good terms with a person is also reconciliation, especially if after many years of separation they have moved on. How we apply this requires wisdom, but the relationship is affected in some way, and it needs to be left up to the offended person to decide what to do with the relationship.
[To be continued]