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Dear Gramps,

Is there a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation? Can forgiveness be extended without a reconcile within the relationship?






Indeed there is a difference between the two terms, forgiveness and reconciliation. Look at the word for-give. The first syllable, for, signifies before the fact, which implies before payment, or, if you will, before accountability. The second syllable, give, is in this sense the opposite of require. Thus to forgive is to relieve from accountability or blame–to not require that justice be served, but to hold blameless the offender. Someone said,

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.”

In the word reconcile we have the syllables, re- and -concile. Concile comes from the word, conciliate, which means to gain favor by pleasing acts, to become friendly or agreeable. To re-concile means to return to a state of agreeableness that existed before.

The act of forgiving requires no accountability for the offense–no payment, no justification. When a person is forgiven, the slate is wiped clean, as if the offending act never occurred. The act of forgiveness relates only to the forgiver. Of course there may be conditions upon which forgiveness may be offered, but those conditions being fulfilled, the offended one may or may not choose to forgive. And doing so is a unilateral act–an act of generosity and kindness, and the act of forgiveness itself implies no conditions or accountability on the part of the forgiven one.

So, in one sense, forgiveness is a unilateral action and reconciliation is an agreement between two individuals.

In the religious context, the Savior may forgive the repentant sinner. In doing so, the slate is wiped clean, as if the offending act had not been committed. The appropriate allegorical phrase is found in Isaiah 1:18,

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

.And in the Mormon scripture Doctrine and Covenants 58:42.

Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

.Jacob, the brother of Nephi, speaks of being reconciled to the will of God, or being in agreement and coming into compliance with the will of God, implying a relationship between God and man.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.






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