Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Does God Say About Forgiveness?


I know that I have written before about this topic...... forgiveness. It's something that I'm constantly struggling with. All of these reoccurring thoughts popping into my head. Everything that they said and did. My mind is on constant replay. 

I've spoken to the individual about her behavior and how it affected me. The person has apologized but the behavior continues. So is the individual truly sorry if she continues doing over and over again  what I have already told her to stop. The answer to this question is .......No!! The individual is not remorseful. However, what am I suppose to do now? Do I seek revenge? Stop talking to her? Remind her of all of the mistakes she has made? (I'm unable to permanently remove her out of my life because of who she is.) So what do I do? I'm constantly praying and asking God to please help me forgive her. I'm constantly beating myself up because it is a struggle. 

What does the Bible say about forgiving others. Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." What Am I suppose to do? I must forgive!!!!

Matthew West 


  1. Just a few thoughts to share (hopefully they are useful)...

    To me there are two issues you are dealing with, one is forgiveness, and the other is restoration. Forgiveness is about releasing our hold on a reasonable desire for justice. Or to put it another way, it is about extending mercy. When someone wrongs me, it is natural to want them to pay for that wrong. Forgiveness releases them of that debt (at least from myself - we all have to answer to a higher Judge).

    As Christians we must forgive, because we have been forgiven of so much that we are not in a position to withhold forgiveness (think of the parable of the debtor who is forgiven of a gargantuan debt, then demands repayment from someone who owes him a small amount). If I withhold my forgiveness I am basically saying "I don't have to forgive you, because the price Christ paid on the cross really wasn't that great, certainly not much more significant than what this person has done to me!

    Restoration, on the other hand, is another issue. I can forgive someone who has wronged me without their desiring it, but restoration requires three key ingredients: a pre-existing relationship, genuine repentance, and genuine forgiveness.

    So the first question is, do you have a loving two-way relationship with this woman? If you don't really have a loving relationship with someone, there cannot be restoration. Does she care about you and want what is best for you deep down inside, despite the hurtful things she sometimes does, or do you interact regularly, but without a real two-way loving relationship? If the answer to the first is yes, you can and should seek restoration. If it is no, I believe you can only forgive and forbear, but there is nothing to restore.

    Next up is repentance. Repentance does not mean saying "I'm sorry", feeling remorse, or even asking for forgiveness (although it will often lead to those outcomes). Repentance is realizing what you have done is wrong, and turning away from continuing to do that.

    Unfortunately, repentance begins in the heart, so it can be hard for us to assess whether someone is truly repentant, especially since most of us struggle with returning to the same bad behavior (I'm sure God would attest to how often his children repeat the same failings over and over again). But eventually, what starts in the heart must make itself known through our actions, so if those actions aren't forthcoming,(even if imperfectly) it is telling of what is really occurring in the heart.

    If there is a loving relationship but not genuine repentance (no real effort to turn away from the hurtful words or actions) there cannot be restoration either. In this case you can only bring up the pain your friend is causing you and let her know this is unacceptable behavior (which it sounds like you are already doing). If she really cares about you she will repent, whether on the spot or after time for reflection (who wants to hurt those we love?). Of course, this has to be done in a loving manner. If you come across harshly or accusingly human nature dictates that she will likely get her defenses up and try to rationalize what she has done. But if you calmly and lovingly point out how she is hurting you and she doesn't seem to care, I would reassess your answer to the question about the genuineness of your relationship.

    Unfortunately, in some cases a person isn't truly repentant, they just say "I'm sorry" to try and move past what has happened without really repenting and seeking restoration. If you don't feel there is true repentance, you must forgive, but cannot really have a restored relationship. Never stop loving or forgiving, but know that you cannot have a healed relationship without that repentance, and make sure this lady is aware of that as well. Hopefully she will desire the relationship to be made right and truly seek to stop hurting you.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my blog.

      Repentance and forgiveness are two different issues. But I sometimes believe that if I forgave the individual then I should have a relationship with her. I understand that is not the case. I may forgive someone for their wrong doing but that does not necessary mean we are going to have some coffee together.;)

      I'm not sure if she is truly sorry for her behavior. But I understand I need to forgive her. The situation now is, do I want to continue to have a relationship with her. The answer to that question is "I'm not sure".

      Thanks again and YES it was really hopeful.