You forgave, but they never apologized or changed. How do you treat them going forward? How do you handle someone you’ve forgiven but don’t trust? What do you do when you want a healthy relationship, but they don’t?
When we think someone is wrong, we want to help them see the light, change their ways—and stop hurting us! We prefer handling someone else to corralling our own impulses and strong emotions. But God didn’t give us the power to transform them. The Holy Spirit produces self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
We only frustrate ourselves when we focus on changing someone else. It is better to accept responsibility for what we can manage—ourselves.
We’ve worked our way through the process of forgiveness by spelling FREEDOM. The M in FREEDOM stands for: Manage yourself.
The day we learn to take responsibility for ourselves and release the other person to God is our liberation day.
Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God,” (Romans 14:12, NIV).
God won’t ask me why someone behaved a certain way. He’ll ask me about my actions. Next time we’ll look at how to interact with wrongdoers. Now, let’s lay some groundwork for managing ourselves.
Keep a Clean Heart and Clear Boundaries
It’s not unusual for one who wronged you to stay in your circles. They show up at family reunions, attend the same church, or work in the same building. Protect your heart by always forgiving offenses and setting healthy boundaries.
We don’t have to approach the wrong-doer to forgive them. Forgiveness is between us and God. The perpetrator may deny the wrong, blame us, or turn on us in full force.
A woman who heard me speak on forgiveness said, “When you said I didn’t have to approach the person who wronged me, I knew I wanted to forgive my dad. He sexually abused my sister and me for years.
“Because I couldn’t broach the subject with him, I believed I could never forgive him. I forgave him that night. He called sometime later, and I was able to talk to him without knots in my stomach for the first time in my adult life.”
You don’t have to interact with an unsafe person to forgive. In fact, it’s usually wise not to engage with them.
Forgiveness Differs from Reconciliation
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily restore a relationship. God tells us to forgive everyone. This protects us from the havoc resentment creates in us and spills out on those we love. But reconciliation takes the cooperation of both parties.
Romans 12:18, (NIV) says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” A restored relationship is ideal. But we can’t reconcile with everyone. Even Jesus suffered rejection from people He sought a relationship with.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing! (Luke 13:34 GW).
Jesus could not live at peace with the hypocritical Pharisees and still be in sync with His Father. How can “me and my house serve the Lord,” and tolerate sin at the same time? (I cover this in more detail in the chapters on Bathsheba in Little Women, Big God.)
It is impossible to enjoy peace with people who continue to willfully wrong us and sin against God. But a lack of relationship should be because of their sin, not because of our resistance to forgive one who’s shown genuine repentance.It is impossible to enjoy peace with people who continue to willfully wrong us. #wisdom, #forgive Click To Tweet
If a person doesn’t want to be close to you, let them go. Remain open to reconciliation, but don’t force it.
We’ll continue our series next time by looking at how to use discernment in sticky relationships. In the meantime, keep and a clean heart and know your boundaries.
Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Click here for How to Rebuild Broken Trust, the next post in this series.
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