Have you ever written something or said something that might have offended another Christian? Well I have. I think that we all have offended someone in our past and may unfortunately offend another Christian in the future. The offense could be a number of things. It could be your opinion of a political party, candidate, or leader. It could be an opinion of where our country is going. It could be anything.
When the Christian we have offended brings it up to you in conversation, what is the Biblical mandate? What did Jesus tell us to do? When a Christian offends someone, which is not related to the Gospel of Jesus or how Christians are supposed to live their lives, if the offense is not faith based, the Christian should ask forgiveness of what was spoken or written if it caused hurt or offense towards another Believer. If the Believer states that asking forgiveness is not required, but brought it to your attention, then there is a Biblical requirement of both the offender and the one offended.
The following are a list of Scriptures mandating forgiveness.
Matthew 18:21-22, “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.”
Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Colossians 3:13, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Matthew 6:15, “but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Proverbs 17:9, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”
There are many more Scriptures I can list, but will stop with these. We are to forgive those who have trespassed against us. Look at the Lord’s Prayer, which is Matthew 6: 9-13,
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Although I removed the verse numbers, in verse 12, it reads “and forgive our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors.” This one verse is crucial in the mandate of forgiveness.
Last year, I had an encounter with another Christian pertaining to a music ministry. I asked an innocent question. I wasn’t aware of what was happening in that church. My question prompted the pastor to call me. We had a discussion pertaining to the question and why I had asked that? My intentions were innocent as my wife and I had been in other ministry opportunities and we did not know what was going on at that church pertaining to the leadership or the ministries. The pastor and I had a discussion and the following Sunday, because of what I understand to be Christ’s mandate for asking forgiveness, I asked the pastor to forgive me if I caused a problem or offended by asking that question. Although I did nothing wrong, my intention was to heal a relationship. The pastor’s response was “We just had to make sure.” I did not hear the words, “I forgive you!” To this day, I feel like I am unforgiven by this pastor.
I am speaking openly about this because I see this same scenario happening among Christians today. If you are a Christian, and you bring to the attention of another Christian something that person has said or written that has offended you, according to Jesus, you must forgive the person who has come to you and asked for forgiveness. If you say that is not needed, you are incorrect in your thinking. If someone says, “Please forgive me,” your response should be, “I forgive you!” By not telling the other Believer that there is no need for forgiveness, but you have accused the other Believer, and received the response you were looking for, and yet you have not verbally acknowledged that you have forgiven the other person, then you have left that person unforgiven. Jesus said we are to “forgive seventy times seven,” which means indefinitely.
As for the prior pastor, I have chosen to forgive him even though I did not hear the words, “I forgive you.” I did what I felt was mandated by Christ and now I must move on.
To reemphasize, if someone has offended you and you bring it to his or her attention, if the offender has asked forgiveness and attempted to make it right, your requirement is to forgive them. And how will the other person know that you have forgiven them? It is through these three simple words, “I forgive you!”
I pray today if someone has hurt you, that you will go to them, make it right, and tell them, “I forgive you!” Even if the other person does not apologize or ask for forgiveness, we are to forgive. But if that person does ask forgiveness, then you should tell them that they are forgiven. If you have truly forgiven them, then do not bring up that offense again. Move on and pray that God will heal that relationship. Continue to give all hurts and offenses to God. Pray that Jesus will change hearts and also change yours.
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