Forgiveness can be given, but not received, without repentance; and once given it cannot be rescinded. Imagine a baseball that has been thrown, but cannot be caught until the catcher puts on his glove. The baseball is forgiveness, and that glove is repentance.
When we are wronged, we expect the person who has wronged us to make it right. This expectation is like a debt that can either be collected on or forgiven. The choice is in the hands of the one who has been wronged.“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” C.S. Lewis
Forgiveness doesn’t erase consequences, nor does it create trust. What it does do is release the person in the wrong of the emotional debt they owe, but not the consequences or responsibility of their actions. Also, it releases us of the emotionally burdensome task of keeping track of all that is owed us.
Forgiveness creates a mutual partnership for the resolution of a matter, rather than leaving all obligation with the person being forgiven. Each partner involved in forgiveness, both the giver and receiver, has a role to play and responsibilities to carry out. The forgiver releases the painful attachment of emotional debt, the forgiven repents, while still carrying responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
To maintain a healthy culture of forgiveness, there must be a free-flowing exchange of repentance and forgiveness, or forgiveness and repentance. Forgiveness first? Yes, generally speaking we expect an “apology” before we offer to forgive. Why? Have you ever tried offering forgiveness beforehand? Often the reassurance that forgiveness is available draws out repentance.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:13