What is Forgiveness?
What about this situation:
You have a friend who really wrongs you. You go to him and you make it clear to him how much he hurt you. He won't budge. He does not see that he has done anything wrong, or he won't admit it. Years pass. When you think of this friend, you wish you had been able to come to peace with him. You still have an ache in your heart when you think of him. He hurt you and his subsequent lack of sorrow over the break in the friendship is a pain. Besides all that, you miss him!! His lack of willingness to recognize his fault in the matter is a real head scratcher and left a scar on your heart. He didn't want to see you anymore after he hurt you and you are not friends any longer. He is out of your life. This lack of peace with him haunts you.
Counselors tell you that you are holding bitterness against this brother. You need to forgive him.
What does forgiveness mean in this context? If the brother comes to you (or even if you go to him) and he recognizes that some of the problem (at least) was his fault and he is sorry, then it is easy to get - you NEED to forgive, you WANT to forgive! But ... when you have a person who is not sorry and doesn't want peace with you, how is forgiveness even possible?
Is forgiveness a one-way street?
I can hear the heads nodding.
I am not so sure.
I think of forgiveness as being a transaction of sorts. The forgiv-ee has to recieve it from the forgiv-er, no? Is it a complete transaction when you say "I forgive him" ... and he thinks YOU were the one in the wrong? What if you walked up to him (as some have suggested is vital to forgiving) and told him you forgive him? This would not "relieve his heart," but would be an offense.
So is forgiveness a one-way street?
I once heard that the only thing one can do in a situation like this is be ready to forgive. You have to let go of your anger at the person for having wronged you. Then, when the opportunity comes, you will be ready to forgive, you will forgive him and the process wil be complete. You will have forgiven him. Some people would say that this is restoration, but that the initial "letting go" of your own bitterness was the actual forgiveness.
What do you think? What do you see in the Bible that can help define these things for us?