"Many people have a problem determining the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They fail to deal with external resistance because they feel that they have to give in to the other person again and again or they are not being forgiving. In fact, many people are afraid to forgive (or ask forgiveness) because they equate that with letting down their boundaries one more time and giving the other person the power to hurt them again.
The Bible is clear about two principles: (1) We always need to forgive, but (2) we don’t always achieve reconciliation. Forgiveness is something that we do in our hearts; we release someone from a debt that they owe us. We write off the person’s debt, and she no longer owes us. We no longer condemn her. She is clean. Only one part is needed for forgiveness: me. The person who owes me a debt does not have to ask my forgiveness. It is a work of grace in my heart.
This brings us to the second principle: we do not always receive reconciliation. God forgave the world, but the whole world is not reconciled to him. Although he may have forgiven all people, all people have not owned their sin and appropriated his forgiveness. That would be reconciliation. Forgiveness takes one; reconciliation takes two.
We do not open ourselves up to the other party until we have seen that she has truly owned her part of the problem. So many times Scripture talks about keeping boundaries with someone until she owns what she has done and produces ‘fruit in keeping with repentance’ (Matthew 3:8). True repentance is much more than saying, ‘I’m sorry;’
it is changing direction.”
~from Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
(art by Silviu Oravitzan)