“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example…”
Ephesians 4:32-5:1 NIV
Life is so generous to give us lots of opportunities to extend forgiveness to people who hurt us. What’s the proper response to offence? Do we always have to forgive?
Does forgiveness =equal= restored relationship?
If we are to follow God’s example, as this verse instructs us, then forgiveness is a must and restored relationships need to be our intent. Sadly, I don’t think forgiveness can always lead to restored relationships, and we see that in Jesus’ relationship with the Pharisees.
Isaiah 59:2 explains that our sin is an offence to God, separating us in our relationship with Him. The more we sin and the longer we continue offending Him, the more distant our relationship with Him becomes. Forgiveness can take place in an instant when a prayer is whispered, but it takes time to rebuild a relationship with God.
Restoration happens when we take ownership of our offence and change our ways. We have to go through a process to rebuild our closeness with the Father.
The same principle needs to be applied to our earthly relationships. We must forgive others for their offences towards us. If we don’t, it keeps us bound in bitterness. It’s healthy to learn that a restored relationship is separate from forgiveness and requires a healing process.
When approaching relationship restoration, we need to consider the whole counsel of scripture. Proverbs 4:23 warns,
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT).
Proverbs 22:24 cautions,
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered...”
Sometimes you’ll need to forgive and protect yourself from unhealthy or even toxic relationships. In the best of times, forgiveness leads to a better, stronger restored relationship.
Father, I thank You for Your forgiveness. I ask for grace to forgive others in my life who have hurt and offended me. I take myself out of the judge’s seat and release them to Your judgement and justice. Please help me to guard my heart, without closing it in the area of relationship restoration. May I walk in Your wholeness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
- Ephesians 4:32
- Isaiah 59:2
- Proverbs 22:24–25
- Proverbs 4:23
This post was first published on January 19, 2014 and then included in my first Soul H2O Devotional book: 40 Thirst Quenching Devotions for Women.
Devotion #17 – Forgiveness and Restored Relationship. The original devotion also inspired a #musicpic post called, The Forgiveness Song