Why We Have to Forgive Before Someone Asks

Jesus’ Forgiveness Model

Have you been wronged by someone? Have you been hurt by someone’s words or actions? Jesus has an answer that can bring healing to a broken situation. Believe it or not, our healing starts with forgiveness.

Why We Have to Forgive Before Someone Asks

I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been hurt by people and I’ve hurt others. Both situations can be very painful, especially if the situation seems hopeless. I’ve found myself longing for others to forgive me. While other times, having to seek that closure by saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ Both of which can be so difficult.

How does a Christian navigate through these challenging moments?

Forgiving and Grudging

Our culture encourages forgiveness to a point. That point seems to be if the forgiveness is reciprocated or not. If someone asks for forgiveness, even the most carnal individual will, at least, listen to someone’s apology. With that said, if the wrongdoing is too great (ie. Adultery), then culture allows room for an unforgiving spirit.

The problem — an unforgiving spirit will lead to just as much pain as the pain The of someone’s wrongdoing. In fact, it might lead to more pain as time progresses. Either way, the pain isn’t necessary.

Scripture gives us a model of forgiveness that frees us from a life of pain.

Jesus talked about forgiveness like this:

“‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.’ Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:15-22).'”

Unless we bring #forgiveness to the #conflict, the conflict will never truly be #forgiven. Click To TweetAll too often we think of this text as a ‘conflict resolution model’, when really it’s a ‘forgiveness model’. We expect the other party to extend forgiveness first. Unless we bring forgiveness to the conflict, the conflict will never truly be forgiven. Freedom is found in forgiving, not in someone asking for forgiveness.

When Jesus said we have to forgive someone ‘seventy-seven times’ he essentially turned a limitation into a liberation. There can’t be a limitation to our forgiveness, because that’s where the freedom lies. The pain will always hold us captive if we don’t learn to forgive.

So if we want to overcome the pain and heartache of a conflict, we have to go to the person who has caused the pain and extend forgiveness BEFORE they ask for it. Even if they never ask for forgiveness, the freedom of forgiving will release the pain. That’s why after three attempts to voice forgiveness, and the other person still doesn’t want to engage, we can walk away freely (18:17).

Final thought…

The #pain will always hold us captive if we don’t learn to #forgive. Click To TweetIn a culture where forgiveness is based on reciprocation, Jesus offers a model that is much more freeing. We don’t have to live in the pain of conflict; we can engage in forgiveness.

Yes, there are consequences to our actions. Yes, trust could be broken. Yes, friendships may never quite be the same. But true forgiveness extends the opportunity to build back trust and friendship. It’s not humanly possible to forget, but it IS humanly possible to extend forgiveness.

Your turn…

Have you been wronged? Do you need to forgive? Don’t wait another minute to extend forgiveness.


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Andrew lives in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and two children (Rae and Pierson), where he is the Lead Pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church. He is a graduate of both Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.