Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, “I repent,” you must forgive him.
Luke 17:3-4, ESV
Have you ever been hurt by someone who has no remorse? Or perhaps by someone you never had contact with again? You may have heard it said that you do not need to forgive someone if he or she does not repent—in order words, if the offender does not come to say that he or she is sorry.
However, it is important to realize that just because the verse says if he repents, forgive him, it does not say that if the person doesn’t repent, we don’t forgive him or her. We cannot add what we like to God’s Word. But what we can learn from this verse is that forgiveness is a heart issue. We must have a heart that is ready to forgive.
Think back to what we learned in the previous blog? Remember, how we learn that our forgiveness of others needs to be modeled after God’s forgiveness of us. Therefore, even with this issue of an unrepentant offender we need to model our forgiveness after God’s forgiveness of us. In view of this, let’s learn.
In Psalm 86:5a, King David writes:
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive (NKJV).
In other words, God is ready to forgive us the moment we ask for His forgiveness. But, He does not forgive us before we ask. If we are to model our forgiveness of God’s forgiveness of us, we too must be ready to forgive.
Let me explain. We need to remember that before we repented and asked God to forgive us for our sins, He still loved us and was waiting to say, “You are forgiven!” What He didn’t love or accept was our sinful behavior (which is the subject of the next blog). However, He was ready to forgive the moment we repented. We must therefore have hearts that have already done the deep work of forgiveness by letting go of the hurt and are prepared and ready to say, “I forgive you.” It is the same work within our hearts that forgiveness takes. It is only then that we will have no unforgiveness in our hearts, because we have already let it go and given it to God. In Mark 11:25, Jesus explained it this way:
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him (NIV).
Are you able to stand before God in your prayer closet and know that you have let go of the hurt and unforgiveness? Or are you holding onto something that is going to destroy you? Remember also what we learned in the previous blog—forgiveness is for us? If the person who hurt you were to contact you today are you prepared and ready to say, “I forgive you?” I know I am! In fact, I have been ready and waiting for that for over a year.
Looking forward to your comments. Have you done the deep heart work? Is there someone you are waiting to say “I forgive you” the moment they contact you?
(c) 2011 by Cherie Fresonke
Adapted from two of my books. Go in Peace for Teens and my new book Go in Peace the updated and expanded edition that will be released October 15, 2011. Order your signed copy today at the special introductory price of $12.50 which includes sales tax and shipping (a savings of over 30%). This price is only available for a limited time so don’t wait. Send a check to Sunflower Press, P.O. Box 813, Seal Beach, CA 90740. Or you can purchase Go in Peace for Teens on our webpage http://www.sunflowerpress.net/resources.html or through http://amzn.to/ohMC2U