Do I Have To Forgive?

Written on 02/28/2023
Christian Dunn

Verse: Matt 6:14-15

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  

Yikes!!  Is anyone else concerned about this scripture?  If I do not forgive everyone who has sinned (or trespassed) against me, then I am not forgiven by God?  I thought that all my sins were forgiven not for what I did but for what Jesus did.  Maybe we just brush over the Lord’s Prayer stated right before this verse that says “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”   We are praying that God treat us as we treat others when it comes to forgiveness.  

How do we reconcile the truth that Jesus paid for our sins with his death and the fact that God will not forgive our sins if we do not forgive others.  Some would say that unforgiveness in a person causes our relationship with God to be damaged.  Unforgiveness is a heart problem.  If we jump ahead to Matt 18:21-35, we see a long parable about the unmerciful servant whose master forgives a massive debt and then the servant goes away and does not forgive a small debt owed him.  If we have received such a huge forgiveness of all our sins by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior but we do not forgive someone who wrongs us in some small (relative to all our sins) way, are we not being hypocritical and ungrateful?  Some commentators would even say that these verses mean that we have not truly been saved because our lives have not changed to be more merciful.  

This may not satisfy you as an adequate explanation of this scripture.  That is OK.  I would encourage you to dig into this more if you have additional questions.  But the main take away for all of us is that forgiving others is extremely important to God.  Are you a forgiving person or do you hold grudges?  Do you keep a list of wrongs that others have done to you?  Do you spend a lot of time thinking about how others have treated you badly and rehearsing what you want to say to them to get back at them?  

Bitterness and unforgiveness eat away at us and steal our joy.  God wants you to have a purposeful, joyful life.  Forgiving others is an important step toward a better life for those of us that believe in Jesus.  If that is what you want, spend a little time today considering whether there are any people in your life that has wronged you and you are still holding on to it.  Maybe today is the day where you need to resolve this in your heart.  Today you need to decide to forgive this person.  If this is difficult, ask God for wisdom on how to do this or ask a spiritually mature friend.  You will feel better for it and your relationship with God will be better also.