Every once in a while someone will say something that blows your mind. Sometimes, they’ll say two.
Me: “So what do you do if someone won’t forgive you?”
Brandon: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Let’s say there was a situation, and you believe wholeheartedly the other person was in the wrong and initiated the confrontation but you lashed back. What if you have forgiven them, apologized for your actions, and then tried to make amends but they refuse to forgive you?”
Brandon: “Well the first thing you should understand is that forgiveness does not always mean restored relationships.”
Boom! There it was, that was mind blowing fact of life #1. Why have I never viewed it from that perspective??
Me: “I guess you’re right…. Okay, so what do you do if you have forgiven them but they still won’t forgive you, restored relationship or no restored relationship?”
Brandon: “Well, Johnna, that’s when love your enemies comes in to play.”
Boom! Second explosion!
“God did not instruct us to forgive others for their well-being, because HE forgives them for their well-being. You forgive for yours. You forgive so hate and bitterness does not build inside of you so you can continue down a righteous path.”
Someone can choose not to invite you in their house. Someone can choose to take a different aisle if they see you in the grocery store. That may not exactly be showing the best love but it is understandable. However, if someone chooses not to forgive, especially in a situation they helped create, they are only harming themselves. They are allowing hate and bitterness to build in their lives, which takes them further from Christ. The moment someone is against Christ, if you are for Christ, they are now considered your enemy. So how does God tell us to treat our enemies? He instructs us to love them, even when they don’t love you.
Our problem is we view forgiveness in such a way that implies that by forgiving we are “accepting behavior” or that we have to continue some sort of close relationship with someone who brings us harm. We don’t. Sometimes, yes, it is easy to forgive and love again and the relationship is barely altered but sometimes, unless you both have modeled your life after Christ, that relationship may need to end.
But YOU love. Not because they can’t or won’t but because YOU are in control of what YOU do and God said love.
“Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” Ecclesiastes 6:11
We have to stop taking what someone says about us in anger so personally. Even when it hurts, we cannot let it seep too deep allowing our emotions to alter our behavior. We are a generation of loose lips and gossip. We KNOW this is wrong but yet many times we have all found ourselves falling victim to this type of behavior. However, we know our heart, and we know that most times we are speaking out of boredom, hurt, or ignorance never truly meaning harm to the person we are referring to. This is what makes it so easy for us to speak so quickly on others. We desensitize because we know that deep down we don’t really mean it (at least in my case). So why assume another human, no matter their anger, is truly intending harm towards you? Do not hold anger towards someone for doing just the same as you.
If you have genuinely apologized and reached out in love then that is all you can do. It is no longer your business if they do not like you or not.
Please do not misinterpret what I am saying here. This doesn’t mean it is okay to speak ill of one another just because I’m advising that no one “take it to heart” because even the bible says control your tongue.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”Proverbs 21:23
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
It hurts when someone is holding on to bitterness aimed towards us but if you have done all you can do it is no longer in your control. Stop letting their inability to forgive steal your peace, it is already doing everything it can to steal theirs.
We have all heard a million speeches on forgiving others that we often don’t even think about others forgiving us until faced with it in our personal lives. I would love if we could forgive and restore our relationships easily, but I also wish we could prevent anything that happens that would cause someone to have to be forgiven. However, sin is real. With sin comes consequences, and sometimes that means lost relationships.
If someone is holding on to anger, pray for them. We never want someone else to be disconnected from the Lord, especially just because our feelings are hurt. People are not lost because they bring harm, they bring harm because they are lost. Forgiveness is a fruit of the spirit, so how do you expect someone who is without the spirit to be able to fully forgive, even if they do not realize that they are?
If you need to forgive, forgive. If you need forgiveness, ask for it. If they do not give it, remember the only one whose forgiveness truly matters is God’s. If we have repented, none of us should be defined by the worst thing we have ever done. It is your soul which God judges you by, not someone else’s view of you.