A lasting and mutually amicable relationship must be based on truth. By “truth” I mean a mutual understanding and acknowledgement of what is true about the relationship, its status, and what, from the history of that relationship, one party may reasonably expect from the other. Without it there can be nothing more than a superficial show-relationship with all the trappings and none of the meaning.
We are not commanded to forgive when forgiveness has not been asked. This should not be treated as license to hold a grudge, but rather as a statement about the nature of what it means to forgive. To say “I forgive you” is to affirm that you accept and acknowledge the repentance of someone who has wronged you. That repentance, of course, implies that the repentant acknowledge wrongdoing. Therefore, it is quite impossible to accept repentance which has not been offered. Until it is, the relationship cannot be reinstated as it was.
Moreover continued refusal to acknowledge wrong is Biblical grounds for the termination of all interaction. This does not mean rendering evil for evil or wishing evil upon those who have wronged you. We should always be willing to embrace those who have wronged us the minute they confess their wrong and ask for our forgiveness. Nor should this forgiveness be contingent upon the other party’s ability to make good what his or her wrongdoing may have cost us. Particularly in cases of betrayal, this is not possible. (Though I suppose true repentance would be accompanied by a desire to do so.)
Forgiveness, then, should be offered with genuine joy that the offending party has been won over. We should rejoice to see this spiritual fruit and not begrudge letting go of our claims. Though really, any “claims” that we might think we have ought to be deeded over to God in the first place. He ordained it and he will make it right in his good time.
This brings me to my final point. Sometimes God allows bad people to do bad things to those who are displeasing to him. Time after time God used the cruelty of Israel’s wicked neighbors to judge Israel for her sins. What’s interesting is that God later would judge these nations because of what they had done to Israel. They were wrong in the cruel things that they did, but God was just in using them to judge Israel for what Israel herself had done. I think God uses cruel people for his purposes today just as He did back then. So if someone has wronged you, it might be a good time to sit up and pay attention to what God is trying to get across to you. I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t want for Him to have to do it again.
If you’re reading this, I sincerely hope you found it helpful. They say that a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a very wise man learns from other people’s mistakes.
If it’s too late to be very wise, I hope I can at least be wise.