Do I really need to ask for forgiveness?
Sometimes when God asks us to do something, instead of obeying, we try to rationalize away the need to take action. With seeking forgiveness, our pride can get in the way, because asking for forgiveness requires us to humble ourselves before those we have offended.
- “It happened a long time ago.”
If it happened so long ago, why do you still remember it?
- “The one I wronged has moved away.”
Surely it would not be too difficult to find out his new contact information.
- “It was such a small offense.”
Has it been eating away at your conscience? If so, it is big enough to be taken care of.
- “Things have gotten better.”
With uncanny regularity, those who purpose to go back and make things right with the one whom they offended will find the situation improving. Often, this improvement is 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 too sensitive.”
A sensitive nature is not something to avoid, but rather to develop!
- “No one’s perfect.”
That’s true, but that does not give you freedom to disobey God’s instruction to ask for forgiveness. (See Matthew 5:21-24.)
- “He won’t understand.”
You’ll be amazed by 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 arrange to pay the debt 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!
- “I’ll only do it over again.”
If you offend again, you must ask for forgiveness again. You will discover that the pain of truly humbling yourself and asking for forgiveness will be much greater than the pain of self-control.
- “The other person was mostly wrong.”
You don’t have to live with his conscience; you have to live with yours. Someone has to begin the humbling process. Let it be you, and you will be blessed.
- “My parents won’t understand when they tell them what I’m doing.”
Beware that discussing God’s clear commands with others is often a method of procrastination. Your parents may deeply appreciate the fact that you are following God’s direction to seek reconciliation.
- “I’ll leave the worse offense until last.”
Always ask forgiveness for the worse offense first. If you don’t, you will experience abnormal guilt and will focus on inconsequential offenses that really don’t require a formal request for forgiveness.
- “If I purpose not to do it again, won’t that be enough?”
Not doing it in the future will not erase the wrongs of the past.
- “They’re not Christians—what will they think?”
They will think they have finally found an example of a true Christian—someone who takes God’s Word seriously and is responsible for his actions.
- “If I go back, it will get my friend in trouble.”
It needn’t. Asking for forgiveness in the right way concentrates only on your offense. To involve someone else is to shift part of the blame.
In Matthew 5:23–24, Jesus commanded us to be reconciled with those we have offended. This is an amazing command! God wants us to be reconciled to those we have offended, even if it means interrupting our time of worship in order to pursue that reconciliation. If you have put off asking for forgiveness, don’t delay any longer, but go in humility, ask for forgiveness, and seek to be reconciled.