When someone has wronged me, it creates a breach in our relationship because it has either hurt me or made me angry.  It has broken a trust.  Offering forgiveness is a means of repairing the breach, reconciling the differences, and restoring the relationship.

When I offer forgiveness, I alert the wrongdoer to the breach he caused. 
I am not denying the wrongdoing or the breach.
I am not pretending nothing happened or that there was no breach.
I am affirming the wrongdoing AND the breach.

When I offer forgiveness, I convey to the wrongdoer that I want the breach repaired.
I am not telling him that everything is fine or that the wrongdoing didn’t hurt.
I am telling him that his wrongdoing did damage, but I want to initiate the process of repair, reconciliation, and restoration.

When there is a breach in a relationship, if it is going to be repaired, someone must initiate the process of repair.  The one who did the wrong can do so – if he recognizes he did wrong and broke the relationship.  But what if he doesn’t know he wronged you?  What if he doesn’t know his actions broke the relationship?  The offer of forgiveness from the offended person makes him aware -- and calls for a response.

It is at this point that I have found many evangelicals difficult to figure out.  Many seem to think that extending the offer of forgiveness requires that the offended party behave as though the breach is repaired and the relationship is restored -- even if the offender refuses to accept the offer of forgiveness and fails to respondand that if the offended person doesn't behave as though the relationship is restored, it means he hasn't truly forgiven the offender, that he's lacking in love and is failing to extend grace.

When the gospel of a loving God’s gracious forgiveness in Christ arrives at the ear of an unbelieving rebel, what is God’s response if that person insists that they’ve done no wrong and that they need no forgiveness?  What is God’s response if, after inviting them to be reconciled to Him, they simply ignore the offer and walk away?  

Are they forgiven?  Have they been reconciled to God?  When they stand before Him in the judgment is He going to say “Well done, good and faithful servant”?  Or is He going to say, “Depart from me, I never knew you”?

God may continue to extend the offer of forgiveness (Isaiah 65.2), but until those being offered forgiveness acknowledge their wrongdoing and their need of forgiveness -- until they respond to the offer and accept it and its terms -- forgiveness is not effected and the relationship remains broken and in need of reconciliation.

If this is true, is this not instructive for how forgiveness works among people?