| "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”|
Luke 7: 47 (ESV)
As we read reports of those who have been abused, hated, persecuted and victimized, one might be wondering what the Christian's duty is regarding forgiveness. Do we unconditionally forgive those who have wronged us? Or do we only forgive if the offender has shown true repentance and asked our forgiveness? What does Scripture teach regarding the matter of forgiveness? I struggle with these questions, and if you do too, here is a sound resource that might help answer your questions from a Biblical viewpoint.
The article I'm featuring is "Do We Have to Forgive Someone If They Don't Repent?" written by Timothy W. Massaro and is posted at Core Christianity. I'll be sharing some excerpts below and encourage you to read the entire article.
This question is a perennial problem. Everyone has been hurt by someone who has failed to ask for forgiveness. When friends or loved ones—those closest to us—do something to betray our trust or confidence, our hearts can feel like breaking. When they fail to repent of their offense, insult is added to the injury. Christians don’t always follow the path Christ demands of them. We are sinful and often act selfishly, seeking our own success in life.
We often think to ourselves, 'I can’t forgive someone who won’t apologize.' 'Forgive? Don’t you know what they did to me?' Or 'How can I forget what they did?' These are legitimate questions that we all struggle with. What should we do in these situations? Do we have to forgive the other person even if they fail to repent?
Yes. Forgiveness is not reconciliation or reuniting with that person. Reconciliation takes two parties to agree and come together. Forgiveness is an act of faith which is not necessarily forgetting. Here are three things to remember about forgiveness and why it is always necessary.The author then presents these three points for the reader to consider:
- Forgiveness is necessary because we are sinners in need of grace.
- Forgiveness is remembering the offense differently, not forgetting.
- Forgiveness is an act of faith, allowing God to have the last word.
Romans 12:14-21 (ESV)Dear Father in Heaven,
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[a] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[b] to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' 20 To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Sometimes it is such a struggle for us to forgive those who have wronged us that we will create "loopholes" and seek exceptions to Your Word on this matter. We often convince ourselves that it's our right to hold on to the past transgressions of others against us (while excusing our own), which creates bitterness in the heart and twists our thinking, while giving us a troubled conscience and a restless soul.
Please forgive our transgressions in this area and help us to understand how to freely forgive as we have been forgiven by You.
In Lord Jesus Name I pray, amen.