Do You Need to Forgive Someone?

Posted on June 4, 2010

By Justin Edwards

Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Are you holding a grudge against someone and need to ask forgiveness? Is there someone with a grudge against you? Forgiveness is the epitome of the Christian walk – whether we need it or need to offer it.

We grieve the Spirit of our Lord when we walk in unforgiveness, and refusing to forgive is, in fact, very dangerous ground to walk on. The Apostle Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4 to

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 We see that this is actually a command in Colossians 3, where Paul tells us

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

There is not one thing that any one can do to you, under any circumstances, that would warrant refusal to forgive. If you refuse to forgive someone who has offended you, I dare say you may not be forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ yourself.  Jesus said in Matthew 6,

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

My heart breaks when I hear someone say, “I will never forgive them” or “Forgiveness is not an option”. This is akin to the Apostle John’s words in 1 John 4,

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can[c] he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

If you do not forgive those who seek forgiveness, the love of the Father may not be in you. Forgiveness is rooted in love, for love, agape love, is why Jesus died on the cross to forgive YOU of YOUR offenses against Him. Likewise, it is out of love that you forgive one another. If you do not forgive, you do not love, and the love of the Father is not in your heart.

We have so greatly offended God in our sins, yet He is faithful to forgive us when we confess to Him:

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

How utterly foolish is it then to think that any born again believer can withhold forgiveness from someone seeking it? Our sins against God are countless, and we are commanded to forgive without limit. We must extend the same grace and mercy to those who offend us as God has extended to us.

3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you,[a] rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you,[b] saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” – Luke 17:3-4

Last Sunday, my pastor, Loran Livingston, mentioned a quote or two about those who make us miserable or bring affliction to our lives. They basically said we should thank God for those bring us sufferings, who hold grudges against us, who treat us poorly – these should bring us joy and we should praise Him. Why? You might ask? Because it is then we can submit to Christ in humility and exercise our duty to love those who persecute us. It is then we can love our enemies and those against us. We then are able to conform to the likeness of Christ by exercising forgiveness in meekness.

Sometimes people do not give us opportunity to forgive them because they are not repentant of their actions against us. The grudges one holds against us may never turn into sorrow in which they seek to make peace with us. These are the times that we must forgive them anyway. While the transaction of forgiveness cannot take place unless they receive the forgiveness out of a repentant heart, we can still prepare our hearts for forgiveness and turn the situation over to the Lord. It is then left to be a matter between them and a just God.

Whether you find yourself in a position that needs to ask forgiveness, or you need to make peace with the one who has offended you, God has called us to live in peace. It is your Christian duty to forgive no matter the offense, and you must seek forgiveness when you have offended.

The following is a letter written by Pastor Livingston to someone who held a grudge against him several years ago. I believe it illustrates the heart we should all desire when we are placed in a situation that causes strife in our lives by another. May we all be slow to anger and remain in a state of forgiveness.

I release you from an obligation I think you have towards me because of a personal violation.

You are no longer indebted to me.

My healing and restoration are not contingent upon another word or action from you.

For me to be happy has nothing to do with you anymore.

You owe me nothing.

I exhibit compassion to you because of the mistake you made, and the mess you are in, and I know the weight is heavy – I have carried it many times.

Like a king, I am wealthy beyond measure and what you owe me compared to the riches of heaven cannot make me richer if you pay me or poorer if you don’t.

Like a child of God, my joy is full and cannot be made more or less full by the way you treat me.

Like my Savior, he who is greater forgives and blesses the transgressor not once but every time.

I refuse to be offended.

I refuse to be sensitive.

I refuse to be shackled to a grudge.

I set you free from me.

I bless you.

I pray for you.

I forgive you as I have been forgiven by the Lord now and forever.

It is my privilege to forgive you because in so doing I imitate and please Jesus.

The case is closed forever.

The matter is settled eternally.

The judgment is rendered and from my heart I say with my mouth “you are forgiven”.

Because I know that in one year, or in one month, or in one week, or in one day, or in one hour, or in one minute, or in one second from now, I will need to ask for forgiveness from my Lord Jesus, and I want nothing to delay the answer or hinder my prayer.