Forgiveness and repentance is one of the hardest things in Christian life. “Will you forgive me?” gets caught in my throat. Along with my pride I guess. Because of the wonderful gift of God’s word and instructions in the bible and our call to a high morality, we as Christ followers become extra sensitive to injustice. Whether it be hypocrisy in fellow believers or being wronged by the world. We struggle with the pain of being slighted even though we have eternal life by the very grace of God.
Forgiveness is the proper response to repentance.
There can be no reconciliation with the unrepentant. If we try to do this then it is not real. We can forgive but if we pretend that our forgiveness alone reconciles then we have missed a very important part of the gospel. Jesus has already procured our forgiveness but until we repent and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour then we are not reconciled with God. The same is true with us. Not that we can become someone Lord but that repentance must always accompany forgiveness in order for reconciliation to take place. We should seek forgiveness with each other before you seek forgiveness from God. (Matthew 5:23-24) Many times, maybe even most times, repentance and forgiveness needs to be sought on both sides of a situation with us. We must remember that forgiveness is required (Matthew 6:14-15 Colossians 3:13) and forgiveness is also to be limitless (Matthew 18: 21-22).
What do we do with the unrepentant? Don’t make excuses for others, we can’t let them out of repentance.
Don’t enable others to continue in unrepentant sin by constantly rescuing them from the consequences. (1 Corinthians 5:4-6) Sometimes this can seem unkind in the moment but with eternal perspective it can be the most loving thing to do. On the other hand we must always honor repentance. When those around us are broken and repentant, then is the time to lavish forgiveness and healing in any way God has blessed us with. Jesus was often blunt with people about their sin but he was also quick to forgive and restore when repentance was shown (Luke 15:11-32).
We can’t just say we are sorry and expect the other person to deal with it. Saying we are sorry is merely a statement about speaker. No we must humble ourselves and actually ask for forgiveness. Those simple words, “Will you forgive me?”, surrenders our power and leaves the response and burden with the other party. We, as Christians are blessed with ultimate forgiveness. It is a language we should learn to properly speak with each other.