|Among those who have experienced God’s love in Christ, “love covers a multitude of offenses” (I Peter 4:8). Forgiven people forgive others. God expects them to forgive (see, Matthew 6:14-15).
When minor offenses occur, forgiveness and reconciliation will work together to restore relationships to true unity. Those who withhold restoration over minor grievances are not behaving consistent with the forgiving-love they received from God (see, Ephesians 4:32-5:1).
Where such love is lacking, immaturity and manipulation often threaten unity. But when we have been deeply or repeatedly sinned against, forgiveness does not necessarily require immediate restoration of the same level of relationship with an offender. When trust is deeply betrayed, it is not easily rebuilt.
Even when God forgives our sins, He does not promise to remove all consequences created by them. Being forgiven, restored, and trusted is an amazing experience, but it’s important for those who significantly hurt others to understand that their attitude and actions will affect the process of rebuilding trust. Words alone are not enough to restore trust in such cases.
When a husband speaks harshly to his wife in a way that is out of character, his acknowledgement of sinning against her should be received with forgiveness and restoration. If he repeatedly speaks this way, he should expect his acknowledgements of wrong to be more difficult to receive. If the pattern continues, his wife could appropriately tell him that she forgives him but will not accept his harshness in the future without consequences.
When someone has been significantly hurt and feels hesitant about restoration with her offender, it’s both right and wise to look for changes in the offender before allowing reconciliation to begin. This is especially true when an offense has been repeated.
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