Does Forgiveness Mean Reconciliation?

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Is Reconciliation possible without Forgiving?

What is reconciliation? Very simply put, it is the renewal of a relationship after a break. Can renewal happen without forgiveness? Can forgiveness be achieved without reconciliation? How are reconciliation and restoration different?

Reconciliation without Forgiveness is a sad, dishonest place for any relationship. Likewise, it would be healthier for all to refrain from anything more than a light, friendly association until genuine forgiveness is reached. Similarly, remember mercy is not sweeping things under the rug or pretending like something didn’t happen. No doubt, surface forgiveness is a meaningless farce.

Iron Sharpens Iron, Proverbs 27:17

To grow authentic, godly, transparent relationships, we must learn to communicate in love. Just like the Bible teaches. We are to be confessing one to another. Confronting each other’s sins, rebuking, encouraging and much more. Iron can’t sharpen iron – if the metal is scared of the truth. Indeed, if one only wants the lightest of engagements.

Forgiveness without reconciliation is also a sad place for a relationship to be. Forgiveness without reconciliation occurs when one side refuses to forgive in an authentic way. A lack of humility and willingness to take responsibility for actions and hurts given (intentionally or not) is often the motivator for a refusal to reconcile.

Fear of being real and transparent gets in the way of reconciliation and restoration.

Lovingly, we need to embrace a willingness to understand one another. Often, we are convinced we are the only ones who are correct. Then we will choose to keep a thick wall around our hearts. We will find it difficult to engage at an intimate level. Good communication to understand each other is where true reconciliation begins.

Biblical communication and transparency require death to ourselves and a willingness to put our brother/sister first.

Indeed, we must have a willingness to love each other as much as we love ourselves. When was the last time you refused to hear yourself out? Not often, right? It is that same level of care and concern that God is asking us to give each other. Especially those that are a part of His body.

Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galations 6:10

The path is narrow and therefore the companions are few. But God provides just who and what we need in our journey. If you are alone at the moment, have faith that He will provide who you need when it is time. Wait expectantly on His goodness. And remember His ways are not ours. Your companion may not be who you were hoping for or expecting. But if they are heaven sent, open your arms and find out what your Creator wants to give you!

Reconciliation comes after Forgiveness.

Forgiveness comes after both parties have humbly accepted responsibility for their sins and wrongs. And when those errors are acknowledged to self and others.

Reconciliation, restitution, justice, forgiveness. How do these work together?

Let’s first explore the differences between justice and restitution. First, justice is a weightier matter, biblically. Restitution, also, is a biblical principle. Both justice and restitution can and at times should play a part in forgiveness and reconciliation.

Justice as defined in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary is

1. The virtue which consists in giving to every one what is his due; practical conformity to the laws and to principles of rectitude in the dealings of men with each other; honesty; integrity in commerce or mutual intercourse. 

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

Restitution is defined as

1. The act of returning or restoring to a person some thing or right of which he has been unjustly deprived; as the restitution of ancient rights to the crown.

Webster’s 1828

Restitution is made by restoring a specific thing taken away or lost. So if gossip stole your reputation, the gossiper could only make restitution through recanting and correcting your reputation.

Wherefore, justice is the Lord’s. However, justice is also considered a weightier matter. Therefore we must be wise and discerning in how we interact with justice. Especially as it pertains to friendships and other important relationships.

Forgiveness can stand alone, even justice can be by itself. But reconciliation?

Above all, reconciliation needs a partner. In fact, the restoration of a relationship cannot happen alone. Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, we must wait. Wait for God to change hearts and minds. Wait with a hopeful, willing heart. Longsuffering. Keeping no list of wrongs. Patient. Kind.

Maybe reconciliation and restoration will happen on earth. Perhaps we have a longer wait than that. Those we are not reconciled with are in His hands. Let’s remain open and willing to genuine reconciliation and restoration.

the heart knows it's own bitterness proverbs 14:10

Ways to check our hearts:

  • Have we made every effort to be at peace with all men?
  • Has forgiveness for the pain and injustice been reached?
  • Have we accepted responsibility for everything we are aware of having done wrong in this relationship?
  • Have we done what we can to make amends?

Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity

  • You do not need to apologize over and over.
  • No need to beg for forgiveness.
  • Don’t obsess trying to figure out what it is they want you to do or say. They have a responsibility too. And if they refuse to communicate – that is on them, not you.
  • Apologize for all Yah has shown you to be your responsibility.
  • Be steadfast in listening to His voice.
  • Reconciliation may not always be the right choice if a trust has been broken.
  • However, we must maintain our faith and hope in the Creator who can and does heal.

After all, true reconciliation goes hand in hand with genuineness, transparency, trust, authenticity, and humility. Indeed, sorrow, and repentance too.


The act of forgiving; the pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty. The forgiveness of enemies is a Christian duty.

Webster’s 1828


Renewal; revival; re-establishment; as the restoration of friendship between enemies; the restoration of peace after war …

Webster’s 1828


The act of reconciling parties at variance; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity.

Webster’s 1828

However, is it possible you are dealing with someone who simply does not know how to admit when they are wrong? Someone who is prideful to the point of not having the capability of apologizing? Or of seeing themselves clearly and honestly? Some folks simply never turn inward, and live their whole lives blaming others.

In addition, I recommend reading How to Move From Forgiveness to Reconciliation and scroll down to section 10 Guidelines for Those Hesitant to Reconcile.

The Steps to Remaining Open to Reconciliation

Restoration is it possible when a relationship if shattered?
  • pray
  • confess
  • repent
  • confront (confrontation done in real love is biblical and healthy)
  • take responsibility, make amends (improve the situation of those we offend)
  • be humble
  • forgive
  • love
  • persevere
  • do not lose heart

Additional Resources for Processing

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6 thoughts on “Does Forgiveness Mean Reconciliation?”

  1. I allowed reconciliation without forgiveness in my last relationship and it really showed me that it is not possible to create a safe and comfortable place with that kind of distrust. It can be hard to let go sometimes but sometimes it is necessary for your own sanity.

    • I so agree with this! Giving up relationships that aren’t authentic can be excruciating – but when we are done -Freedom!

  2. Great post. I’d like to get your opinion on something. I have a good friend of mine who has done things multiple times over the years that have angered me. I have forgiven him each time, but I feel like each time he does something that makes me mad, something chips away at my view of him as a friend. Sometimes, the things he does, he doesn’t even acknowledge that he’s done anything wrong (for example a few weeks ago, he let his outdoor grill get very clogged and dirty, and he went to turn it on to use it and I explained that it’s a fire hazard and could blow up with the backup of gas and that he needed to take the racks out to clean, and he got mad and told me to shut up which I thought was very childish). We are close friends and sometimes I feel like we are family, but he does things without thinking, and it makes me so mad.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, at what point does forgiving the same person just not work? Do you feel like there’s only a certain amount of times you can forgive someone before you say, okay I’m done. For me, I guess it’s like that with most everyone. I seem to keep a catalog of incidences in my head of every little thing someone has done to me, which probably isn’t healthy, but I can’t help it!

    • Well, from what I have learned and gone through, it is the difference between forgiveness and boundaries.

      If I forgive someone that hurt me, it means I no longer harbor ill will or bitterness in my heart, and I hope the best for them. I don’t desire them to face punishment or consequences for what they did to me.

      Boundaries, on the other hand, protect us from being in the line of fire to be hurt again. In your case, your friend has proven to not be the kindest of friends. It sounds like you can pretty much guarantee you will be in his line of fire again at some point in the future (unless he makes some changes). So the only way to protect yourself would be to set up a boundary.

      I would first work on forgiving him for all previous incidences that you may still be struggling with. Then, you will want to think through what sort of boundaries you want to establish. It can be a complete distancing or a modified version of what you have now.

      The point being, it is not mean or unforgiving to choose not to submit yourself to being hurt again. Remain open to his changing or willingness to change. Give him a chance if he repents.

      Be friendly and kind but stand up for yourself and what you are and are not willing to put up with. I hope that makes sense! I have learned to use and love boundaries; they have saved my sanity!



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