Forgiveness vs. Friendship

“ if this is your version of forgiveness I don’t want it…”

This phrase was recently applied towards me, and it took me by surprise and I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since.

And I think it comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding: forgiveness isn’t the same thing as friendship.

They’re more upset they lost my friendship than my trust; they’re more concerned with how this affects them than how they’ve hurt me (and my family).

By societal standards, forgiveness means you no longer feel angry or resentful towards someone.

“Forgiveness does not obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you” (greatergood.berkely.edu)

forgiveness3By biblical standards, forgiveness should be given freely because Christ forgives us. This means letting someone be pardoned for the wrongs they’ve committed. It doesn’t mean we put ourselves back in that same situation or owe the perpetrator anything.

We forgive because Christ forgave us and so that evil doesn’t corrode our daily lives, one bitter action at a time.

Genesis 4:1-8 (cain and able) are a perfect example of what can happen when we don’t choose forgiveness.

And Matthew 6:14-15 is very clear that our order as believers is to forgive others, to not hold grudges, or seek revenge.

However, again, that does not mean forming or continuing a friendship with the person who has wronged you. It means letforgivenessting go of hate and leaving it in God’s hands and moving on. More so, forgiveness does not equal trust.

“It is wise to take precautions and sometimes the dynamics of a relationship have to change.” (gotquestions.org/forgive-forget.html)

Proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

In such a context “forgiving and forgetting” isn’t wise or biblical, it is foolish. And being wary of someone’s heart/motives after you’ve been hurt doesn’t mean forgiveness hasn’t occurred.

And so I repeat…too often it is not forgiveness someone is seeking but friendship, and the two are not always mutually attainable.

Friendship (by definition) means a state of mutual trust and support confirmed by affection –or- an individual who you genuinely like and enjoy being with.

So, in conclusion, is it true forgiveness you seek or is it friendship and acceptance? Because depending on the hurt done, these are not one and the same, and my resistance to rebuilding a relationship doesn’t belittle my faith or negate my forgiveness.

Forgiveness isn’t about the perpetrator, it about the one who has been wronged.

-J

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