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Great question Yes the quicker the better, for when we forgive release others, this trespass is removed from our plate, we followed His instructions. Our standing with Him has been restored, the anger hate of man that the evil one worked to place between God and us is zero gone. The new equation now becomes God and the other person or persons to sort out, as God will in His perfect time. In the Lord's freedom and grace.......warrior on
In our relationships with man the Bible teaches in Luke 17:3-4 "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." In our relationship with God the Bible teaches: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9). Although a truly born again believer's eternal destiny is not dependent upon repentence of sins in the flesh, our relationship, our daily walk with the Lord certainly is. By the same principle, we can forgive and not not be harsh or judgmental toward someone who has wronged us but until the offending party has confessed/repented of the offense there cannot be any true fellowship. I do not agree with a "sweep it under the rug" philosophy pertaining to any relationship. The overwhelming tendency is to talk "about" the offending party rather than talk "to" them. I believe the genuine spiritual, saved individual has the responsibility of rebuking offenders in a kind and loving (Christian) manner with the hope of restoring the relationship. "The rug" is only a holding area for the pile of dirt to accumilate, just waiting to be revealed at the next incident. In the passages I referenced above the word "if" is the qualifier; forgiveness is subjective to repentence. Rebuke, repentence, forgivness, restoration is the Biblical principle.
Forgiving another is more about the benefit you receive than the transgressor's release. The lack of forgiveness is a prime factor that leads to bitterness. Bitterness within is used by the enemy to cause distrust and much disruption among saints (Heb. 12:14-14). Just saying "I forgive you" is not enough, you also must let go of the wrong and hurt. Shelving the hurt, bitterness and resentment is what one does to hold a grudge. You pick it up later to spread roomers, cast aspersions, sowing discord, demean character and such in an effort to justify your position. In reality you are demanding justice for the hurt someone has done to you. You want the other to hurt as much or more as compensation for your hurt. An eye for an eye so to speak. When you have not truly forgiven, then that person is constantly now view through your filter of anger, contempt or distrust. Every interaction is now scrutinized from your narrowly focused inaccurate perspective to find fault which is pointed out to others as opportunity arises. This is our natural response to being hurt or offended. It is driven by our old nature not our new nature in Christ. When guided by our new nature (Christ in me), we look for mercy not justice, for ourselves and others. This is called love. (1 Cor 13:4-8) Col. 3:12-14 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 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. But above all these things put on LOVE, which is the bond of perfection. Forgiveness is not about changing the past, it’s about changing the future. Forgiveness accepts and addresses the past but focuses on a future of healing and hope. • Forgiveness is not a feeling • Forgiveness is not a weakness • Forgiveness is not about changing the other person, their actions, or their behavior • Forgiveness is not conditional • Is not based on the wrongdoer’s actions • Does not mean condoning or excusing a wrong • Forgiveness is not justice • Forgiveness is a command from God We do not need to concern ourselves with making others pay for their wrongs that is the Lord's job. Prov. 20:22 Do not say, “I will recompense evil”; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you. Rom. 12:17-19 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 1 Th. 5:14-15 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 1 Pet. 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
When we recite the Lord's prayer, we say forgive us debts (trespasses) as we forgive those who trespass against us. Doesn't leave much wiggle room does it. Also, hate and not forgiving puts us in a spiritual prison. The one we hate or not forgive might not feel it, but we are constantly thinking about. Best thing to do is release it to the Lord, and He will help and take the situation over.
Our society today confuses "forgiveness" with "reconciliation". We absolutely MUST forgive another, whether or not they repent and ask for forgiveness, BUT we are NOT required to reconcile IF they HAVE NOT confessed, repented and asked for forgiveness. If we automatically forgive, without making sure true repentance is in place (LK 3:8) then we fall into ENABLING them to continue sinning against us. God wants us to "confront in love, WITH THE PURPOSE OF RESTORING" and when we don't love enough to truly confront sin, then we enable it to continue. God Himself came up with the idea of "peer pressure" to influence each other to stop sinning and turn away from sin when He gave us the guidelines of going to confront, if they don't listen, take one or two more, and if they STILL don't listen, THEN we are to HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM as a means of using peer pressure to influence them to turn back. Our churches today have become very lacking in following this example. Each one of us has the responsibility of loving enough to go and confront sin in support of those who are being sinned against. We MUST walk in truth!
I have done much study on this topic recently and my response is NO we are not to forgive IF they remain unrepentant. Firstly, everyone must be held accountable (Matthew 18:15-17, Luke 17:3-4) for their sins so that they have the opportunity to turn from away from their sin and change. God OFFERS forgiveness to all, BUT only GIVES it to those who repent (Luke 13:3). We are to do the same. We can not assume we are better than God and to forgive those who are unrepentant. As Luke 17:3-4 says, to confront them, and then "IF" they repent then to forgive. We are always to LOVE (that's where the real human struggle lies instead) our enemies no matter what though. We are to pray and bless those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:44-44, Luke 6:28). I believe modern thinking has merged love and forgiveness into the same meaning. When looking up the Greek meaning of aphiemi, to forgive is to REMOVE or LIFT OFF sin from the sinner. It is for the benefit of the sinner (Ezekiel the 18:30-32) so that they are no longer carry the sin on them or separate from God, it is not for us or to make us feel better. Our feelings are supposed to be entrusted in God no matter what people do to us (Proverbs 3:5, 1 Peter 5:7). The sinner needs confrontation, repentance and forgiveness. We are to always love and pray for them no matter how offended we are by their actions (Matthew 5:45). I know that's hard to do. Our flesh wants revenge and to stay angry and bitter, but loving our offender and trusting in God is the only way to release yourself from the situation and have peace (Philippians 4:6-7). God must deal with their lack of repenting, not us.
I think you should forgive those who wronged you even if they do not repent because we are to love our brother as ourselves. It is however quite odd, as the lack of repentance and regret means that who sinned against you did't understand what he/she has done wrong and most likely it could happen again in the future. If there is a risk to your own safety, e.g. domestic violence, take reasonable care to prevent further accidents.
As recipients of salvation through grace, we have an obligation to forgive others regardless of whether they have asked for forgiveness or not and whether they feel remorse or not. What we must also appreciate is that sometimes people wrong us and don’t even know it or we may get more offended than the people who have wronged us can even perceive in which case they may not see the need to ask for our forgiveness when we are clearly hurting inside. In teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus included forgiveness (Matthew 6:12) for a reason. In fact, in verses 14 and 15 He actually says that forgiving others is a precondition for their own forgiveness! The need for forgiving others is repeated in several places in the bible including Matthew 7:12; Matthew 18:21-22; Matthew 18:35; Luke 6:37 and many others. God Himself forgave us our sins before we even repented! He sent His Son to die for us sinners while we were sinners as we are told in Romans 5:8. Furthermore, we are also no better than those that wrong us because we are also sinners just like them as Romans 3:22-24 says. By not forgiving those who wrong us, we are actually judging them, something we are commanded not to do in Romans 2:1-3; Romans 14:4 and several other scriptures. Lastly, we must also appreciate that not forgiving those who have wronged us does not enslave them, it enslaves us. Let us be very clear here: not forgiving others does not negate God’s forgiveness of them: Jesus’ death on the cross cannot be negated by any sin: it is absolute, effectively rendering you and I not forgiving someone useless. Romans 8: 31-39 makes that very clear, especially if we look at Romans 8:38-39. So, if we don’t forgive, we become victims of our own unforgiving hearts. Therefore, we must forgive such people so that we can be a good example to them (Matthew 5:16), who knows, that example might lead them to be followers of the Lord.
It is so much harder to forgive someone when they have not asked for forgiveness. This makes it an attitude of the heart. God is always ready to forgive a penitent heart, but remember that we must ask God to forgive us our sins before they will be forgiven. One who doesn't ask God for forgiveness will not be forgiven. But one who does ask will be immediately forgiven. This is why you need to have an attitude of forgiveness in your heart even if someone does not ask you for forgiveness. You must be ready and willing to forgive at any moment, as soon as the offender asks for it. That is how God forgives, and we should always follow God's example. "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." (Colossians 3:13 NLT)
Forgiving others is for our benifit. It sets you free from yourself. The anger and stress you habor towards another dissappears. But to truly forgive must come in two parts. (Heb 8:12) I will forgive their sins...never to be remembered again. The second part, never to be remembered again, is the difficult part, but it is the part that sets you free. Without it, forgiveness has no value to you or God.
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