How do we forgive? Part 2
In Part 1, we discussed forgiveness, biblical forgiveness, having two types of forgiveness. Read the first part again if you need to refresh your memory for the first type. This time we start with the second type of forgiveness...
But what happens when the person who sinned against you doesn't ask for forgiveness? Either they don't know that they've sinned against you or they really don't think they need to ask for forgiveness.
I think what Paul is telling us in Colossians 3 is that our response to offense should not be dependent upon how the offender acts. Paul is focusing on how the offended person should respond, regardless of what the offender does.
The emphasis of the passage is on how we respond to the actions of others - bearing with one another, complaint against another, forgiving each other – even when others disappoint us or hurt us. When someone sins against us, our response to them cannot be dependent upon them. How we react when someone sins against us is completely on us.
So when someone sins against us, we're to forgive them, regardless of how they act after their sin. We are responsible for forgiving even those who don't seek forgiveness.
We need to remember that it is God who is ultimately responsible for punishing sin. And God may be using the sin in the offender’s life to bring him or her to salvation or to purge them of self-dependence. It is not up to us to take vengeance for the sin, even if it is against us.
How are we to forgive? Fully and completely, just as the Lord has forgiven us. Don't hold their sin against them. Don't hold onto their sin, letting it grow into bitterness in your heart. Forgive them in your hearts and let go of it.
Why are we to forgive? Because the Lord has forgiven us. And he has forgiven us fully and completely. God does not hold our sin against us - he has forgiven it completely in Christ.
So we are to do the same when others sin against us. We show that we are becoming more like Christ when we forgive those who sin against us. Our willingness to forgive should flow naturally from our hearts because we have been forgiven.