If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Forgiveness is unconditional, but reconciliation has to be earned by the person who has wronged you. Forgiveness has no strings attached to it; reconciliation has a number of strings attached to it. In Romans 12:18, Paul said, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Sometimes being in unity with those who have wronged you depends upon them as well. Let me mention three of the strings on which reconciliation depends.
First of all, reconciliation demands repentance. In Amos 3:3, the prophet said, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (NLT). The nation of Israel was continuing to sin, but they refused to admit their sin. The prophet was saying, “If Israel and God cannot agree about Israel’s sin, then they cannot have fellowship.” It is the same way in your relationship with somebody who has wronged you. If that person is unwilling to admit they have hurt you, it is going to break fellowship. You can forgive them, but you cannot be reconciled to them.
Second, reconciliation sometimes demands restitution. Think about Zaccheus in Luke 19. He was a tax collector who cheated people every way he could–and then he met Jesus. When Jesus forgave him, Zaccheus said, in essence, “I will repay everyone four times the amount I took from them.” Do not confuse revenge with restitution. Revenge is my desire to see my offender suffer, but restitution is what my offender wants to do to make repayment for what he has done. If you are going to be reconciled to somebody, they have to be willing to make restitution.
Finally, reconciliation demands rebuilding trust. And that takes time, especially after a deep hurt. All the offender can do is request forgiveness and give the one he has hurt time to heal.
Here is the basic difference between bad grace and good grace when it comes to the issue of those who have wronged us: Bad grace equates forgiveness with reconciliation. Bad grace underestimates the serious and long-lasting consequences of sin. Bad grace places all the burden for reconciliation on the offended party and little responsibility on the offender. Good grace, on the other hand, understands that forgiveness depends upon me, but reconciliation depends upon us. Good grace recognizes that reconciliation is not always possible, but it is always preferable. Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotation marked (NLT) is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved; Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org