When God asks us to do something, instead of immediately obeying, we may try to rationalize away the importance of taking action. For example, in seeking forgiveness for a wrong we have committed, our pride often gets in the way, because asking for forgiveness requires us to humble ourselves before those we have offended. The key to being obedient in this area is being open to the Lord, asking Him to search our hearts, and determining to follow through on whatever He shows us to do.
Do not fall to the temptation of making excuses, but take responsibility for your sin against another. God sent His Son to earth to die a sacrificial death for us sinners, so that we could be reconciled to Him. His heart is always reconciliation and restoration. When we hurt others, we must see the relationship that has been broken at our hands, and we must die to our pride, humble ourselves, and do whatever it takes to correct the situation. Begin to recognize when you are making excuses and not owning up to your sinful words, actions, or attitudes.
Common Excuses for Not Asking for Forgiveness
“It happened a long time ago.”
If it happened so long ago, why do you still remember it? It is amazing how the Lord will cause us to think about these matters long after they have happened.
“The one I wronged has moved away.”
Have you tried to acquire his new contact information? When you desire to obey God, you may be surprised at how He will work to make it possible for you to complete an action that is His will. Be assured that peace is His will! (See Romans 12:18.)
“It was such a small offense.”
Has it been eating away at your conscience? If so, the matter is big enough to be taken care of. We are not to allow anything, big or small, to come between us and another person.
“Things have gotten better.”
Often those who purpose to go back and make things right with the one whom they offended will find the situation improving. This improvement may be God’s way of preparing the other person to forgive us, but we mistakenly perceive it as a reason to not ask for forgiveness.
“I’m just being overly sensitive.”
A sensitive nature is not something to avoid, but rather to develop! In fact, the longer you delay, the more you quench the Holy Spirit and the harder your heart will become.
“No one’s perfect.”
Certainly, we all sin, but that does not give you freedom to disobey God’s instruction to be reconciled with those you have offended. (See Matthew 5:23–26.)
“He won’t understand.”
You may be amazed at how clearly he will understand! Your job is to obey; God’s job is to take care of the other person’s understanding.
“Making it right will involve money, which I don’t have.”
Give God an opportunity to display His power; humbly ask Him to provide the necessary funds. At the very least, you could possibly arrange to pay anything owed in installments.
“I’ll do it later.”
You can be sure that “later,” if it ever comes, will never be as good a time as now! No one is promised tomorrow, and waiting will mean continued guilt. If “later” does come, you will regret not having reconciled sooner.
“I’ll only do it over again.”
Purpose to take steps not to repeat such offenses, but if you do offend again, you must ask for forgiveness again. You will discover that the pain of having to humble yourself and ask for forgiveness is greater than the difficulty of avoiding that hurtful action again.
“The other person was mostly wrong.”
You don’t have to live with the other person’s conscience; you have to live with yours. Someone has to begin the humbling process of forgiveness and reconciliation. Let it be you, and you reap the many rewards of humility.
“If I purpose not to offend again, won’t that be enough?”
Not offending again in the future will not erase the wrongs of the past. One’s conscience must be cleared. The most appropriate course of action is to clear up all past wrongs and purpose not to offend again.
“They’re not Christians—what will they think?”
If you humbly ask for forgiveness, then they may think they have finally found an example of a true Christian! If you don’t, they may consider you a hypocrite who says you’re a Christian but does not show Christlike behavior. When you do not take responsibility for your actions, you demonstrate that you do not take God’s Word seriously.
“If I go back, it will get someone else in trouble, too.”
Asking for forgiveness in the right way concentrates only on your offense. To mention or involve someone else as a “co-offender” is to shift part of the blame. Instead, you may find it appropriate to alert the other party beforehand that you will be taking responsibility for your part in the sin and encourage them to do the same.
Jesus commanded us to be reconciled with those we have offended. This is an amazing command! Being reconciled is so important to God, that He would rather us interrupt our time of worship in order to pursue that reconciliation. (See Matthew 5:23–24.) If you have put off asking for forgiveness, don’t delay any longer! Go in humility, ask for forgiveness, and seek to be reconciled.