I had a friend ask me why it’s necessary for a Christian to forgive someone if that person never asked for forgiveness. He was concerned because something had happened to him and the person that committed the sin against him had never asked for forgiveness or even admitted wrong doing; so, he wanted to know why he should forgive him. This prompted me to look at Matthew where Jesus says: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
I wanted to be thorough when I answered his question, so I looked up the original language for this verse in Matthew. It appears to say “let go” of the sins others commit against us and the Father will “let go” of our sins. It does not require someone to admit wrongdoing or to seek forgiveness for us to let it go.
If someone breaks into my house, I want him arrested and held accountable for his crime, but I should not hold bitterness against him even if he doesn’t seek forgiveness; I should let it go.
This is a much healthier lifestyle to have as well. When we hold grudges, our hearts begin to harden and can become bitter. I heard once holding a grudge is like swallowing a bottle of poison and waiting for the other person to die. This person who has sinned against you or me is going on with life completely unaware of our anger. It’s best just to let it go. We don’t have to put ourselves into the situation that allowed them to sin against us anymore, but we don’t have to hold onto that anger and resentment either.
Don’t let the way other people act decide who re going to be. Jesus said you are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16) If you have a grudge or anger against someone, let it go and let that light shine for the world to see.
Lt. Mark Cyr is pastor of The Salvation Army, 661 Colorado St. Carson City, NV 89701. For information, go to carsoncitysalarmy.org.