Asking forgiveness may not be the end of the matter in a conflict undergoing the process of reconciliation.
When fellow Christians confess their sin to one another it does not erase the hurt and it does not automatically fix the situation. The offender must understand that being granted forgiveness may not and in some cases should not automatically return everything to normal.
That is not to say that the person who has done the forgiving continues to hold the offense over the former offender, but if trust has been destroyed or violated it will take time to in essence prove that change has taken place.
There are consequences to every action and the sinful actions sometimes bring serious consequences. A thief must commit to a schedule of repayment, a liar must submit to being examined for truth, and an adulterer must accept that their spouse will be checking up on them and be willing to be accountable for their time and in some cases their money.
Few people who are in the position of receiving the consequences enjoy this period of reconciliation. Many would rather just skip it altogether and make declarations about “going forward.” I assure you, this is going forward!
There are times when along with confession and the asking for and being granted forgiveness that restitution may be necessary. The thief must repay what she has stolen.
The person who has repented and asked forgiveness must begin to demonstrate a changed heart by changed actions. It is right to question the sincerity of a person who cannot demonstrate any change of heart. Of course, we do not expect perfection from anyone and any progress is welcome and should be viewed as movement in the direction of righteousness.
It becomes the responsibility of the church (this means you) to teach and train in righteousness a person who has been corrected. We are to take seriously the admonition of restoring the fallen brother or sister.
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