Is Forgiveness Enough?
Many of us understand the wisdom of forgiveness, but how many have uncovered the reconciliatory power of apology? Why would I need to apologize to my spouse/others if I have forgiven them? Isn’t that enough?
Anyone who has grasped forgiveness through CK is well versed in Matt 6:15 (NKJ): “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This is the great motivation for the forgiver; “If I forgive their sins, then God will forgive mine”.....but is of less benefit to the offender.
God’s heart not only desires forgiveness in our relationships, but desires reconciliation – especially in marriages – God’s picture of His Son Jesus and the Church.
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (NKJ) 2 Timothy 2:24-26
In 2 Timothy 2: 24-26, Paul expands God’s vision of forgiveness, as well as enlarges our compassion, thus positioning the offender to be led to repentance. Aren’t we always praying for the offender to come to his/her senses and repent?
We like the correcting part when it comes to our spouses, but are we teaching patiently and in humility? Someone has to be the grown up one who is spiritually mature. Quarreling is not helpful. Mature and “high joy” persons return to joy from the six big negative emotions (anger, fear, shame, disgust, sadness, hopelessness/despair) quite quickly. They also pass on this “high-joy” skill to others less mature (those who are in opposition) according to 2 Timothy.
The vehicles that drive forgiveness to reconciliation are repentance and apology. God gives us the opportunity (2 Timothy 2: 24-26) to free the offender from our contentiousness in order for them to come into repentance. We have the unique opportunity of a lifetime to spring the enemy’s trap and assist the escape of our offender – providing opportunity to repent, thus coming to their senses. Instead of quarreling and becoming the victim – we choose to model our own repentance and desire for reconciliation.
Why do I need to repent? Remember that every individual needs to feel joy – “You’re glad to see me!” and “You’re glad I’m here!” This shapes our identity, but we also have a human need to feel valuable.
If you haven’t, please take the time to read Craig Hill’s book, You Don’t Have to Be Wrong to Repent! In it he says, “The primary aspect of blessing has to do with the impartation of value, high esteem, and honor. Cursing has to do with the impartation of worthlessness and lack of value. On the external level of communication, you may be right regarding an issue, while on the relational level you are unwittingly cursing your spouse’s identity.”
Ok, but why apologize?…RECONCILIATION
In Luke 23:34, Jesus forgives those who were slaughtering Him.... “And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” God’s heart is for all to be forgiven. Furthermore, Jesus desired reconciliation between His murderers and Him with the Father. He didn’t get repentance or an apology from His offenders immediately. None the less, reconciliation was still His desire.
Later, the Holy Spirit via Peter in Acts 2 brought forth repentance/apology. The reconciliation did not take place until those offenders expressed repentance with regret. They, those “Men of Israel” Peter preached to, acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God and were baptized.
Apology is the second mile, a kingdom principle (Matthew 5:41 (NKJ) “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”). It’s no longer about you, but about the offender and the value of the relationship. Craig Hill states, “…the discussion is no longer about the issue. It is now a discussion of the value of each person to each other.”
We experience one or more of the six negative emotions when we are offended. As Gary Chapman put in plain words in his book The Five Languages of Apology, “The need for apologies permeates all human relationships. Without apologies, anger builds and pushes us to demand justice. When, as we see it, justice is not forthcoming, we often take matters into our own hands and seek revenge on those who have wronged us.”
Ultimately, we desire for our wounds to be healed in relationships by having those involved apologize to us: accept responsibility for their behavior and display regret, repenting; possibly even offering restitution. This is how apology works, synchronizing us back to joy by assisting us in recovering from the six big emotions. We regain value when another feels our pain and genuinely desires to make amends. They take responsibility. If the offender asks forgiveness for cursing our identity, we can now receive blessing to replace the cursing.
Being mature, we can model and pass on these skills by offering apologies when the Holy Spirit prompts. He will show us if we have cursed the identity, been unjust in our attitude or treatment of a spouse or someone else. Take time to ask with whom an apology is necessary. Apologize, ask forgiveness and bless those the Lord shows you.
Forgiveness + Apology = Reconciliation
An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything.
Craig and Chris live in Wilmington, NC. They have been married 41 years and have one son, Michael, 37 years old. They have served on the Covenant Keepers Board of Directors and are an advisor couple for the Wilmington Zoom group. They are members of the National Team for 2Equal1 Ministries, which includes teaching and training coaches to lead pre-marital, marriage and parenting classes in a home setting throughout the world. The Turners have worked domestically and internationally pioneering live and online-classes delivering the gospel and covenant truth to couples regarding marriage and parenting according to God's standard. Craig owns his own environmental business and Chris is a retired educator. They both come from large families and have their own testimonies, sharing a desire to see families prosper generationally and set free of bondage from past wounding. Their ministry brings encouragement, hope, restoration and healing.
Forgiveness apology does NOT equal reconciliation. Or it shouldn't for the wise. Forgiveness and reconciliation are 2 different things. You can forgive someone who has never apologized or repented of their offense. But you are a fool to just 5ske an "I'm sorry" at face value. We are not warned against wolves for they are easy to spot. We are warned often of wolves in sheep's clothing bc they look like...sheep. That can include false apologies with tears and everything. True, heartfelt repentance real, long term change in ACTIONS and ATTITUDES = reconciliation. Jesus loved everyone, forgave everyone, but He did NOT fellowship with everyone so obviously they are not synonimous terms.