“Life becomes easier when you accept the apology you never received.”
One of the most challenging things to do is forgive someone who has hurt you or caused you harm. It’s not easy to turn the other cheek when someone you trusted betrays you or takes your kindness for weakness. Better yet, it’s even more difficult to forgive a person who does not feel any remorse for what they’ve done. Should we forgive someone who isn’t sorry about the harm they’ve caused? In most cases, our first instinct is to write that person off for life and consider them our enemy. However, from a biblical standpoint, fighting fire with fire is contrary to the will of God. Matthew 6:14-15 KJV tells us:
14 or if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-15 KJV
God requires us to forgive the offenses of others, just as we would want to receive forgiveness for our offenses. With this in mind, I want to take a closer look at the idea of forgiveness as it pertains to forgiving someone without receiving the apology that you deserve.
Accepting the apology you never received
Accepting the apology you never received can be a hard pill to swallow. It’s something that I have personally struggled to overcome for years. I would often find myself replaying past aggrievances over and over again, which eventually caused me to become bitter and angry. The lingering thoughts of past hurts, whether it be about someone who has betrayed you, lied on you, and abused you, etc. can manifest an ugly spirit of resentment, which can negatively impact your self-esteem and your interactions with others. It can also greatly impact your physical health. According to John Hopkins Medicine, unforgiveness can lead to changes in one’s heart rate, blood pressure and immune system, sparking an increase risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, etc. For me, carrying around unforgiveness became too much to bear—- as I began to experience depression and anxiety from constantly focusing on past hurts that I couldn’t change. Fortunately, as I strengthened my relationship with God, I began to realize that holding onto unforgiveness did more to ruin my own wellbeing than it did to the person that hurt me. Most importantly, I finally understood that forgiving others for their offenses is one of the key things to receiving salvation and experiencing the wonderful blessings of God.
Abstaining from vengeance to stay in God’s will
When someone offends you, you MUST resist the urge to seek revenge in order to stay within the will of God. Abstaining from vengeance can be difficult when a person inflicts a terrible wound that is very hard to forget. This is when spiritual warfare comes into play, especially when the flesh wants you to get even but the spirit advises you not to. Spiritual warfare often shows up after we experience an offense because we are often equipped to vindicate ourselves as a defense mechanism. When someone hurts us, our fleshly instinct is to ‘get back’ at the person by committing the same negative acts against him or her, or by bad mouthing the person to others to make ourselves feel more superior. But the word of God tells us:
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:Matthew 5:38-39
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
It is wise for us to turn the other cheek when someone offends us. So how do we do this? Do we keep our feelings inside and forget about the whole thing? According to Matthew 18:15 KJV:
“… if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go tell him his fault between thee and him alone…”Matthew 18:15 KJV
In other words, we must approach those who have offended us by expressing our feelings about their actions. This releases any hidden animosity that may exist within you so that you can muster the strength to forgive them—even if they don’t show any remorse. In truth, forgiveness is an act of wisdom that can be used to resist the urge for vengeance against another for their offenses. In the end, forgiveness keeps you within the will of God and protects you from the temptation to sin.
Having to love those who have ill will towards you
Can you love someone who has ill will towards you? How can you love someone who feels no shame in hurting you? Many of us often think that forgiveness means we have to completely forget about the offense and give that person all we have without maintaining clear boundaries. Loving a person who shows no remorse for hurting you doesn’t particularly mean you have to hang out with them, break bread and be merry. Truly loving a person who has offended you may be in the form of praying for that person’s salvation, or asking God to bless that person in ways that will help him or her to turn away from sin. It can also be showing an act of kindness, which helps to negate any negative energy that he or she may send your way. For example, if a person says something negative about you, you can counter the attack by saying something positive about them. Is loving someone who has no remorse an easy task? Oftentimes, no. But to stay in the will of God, Leviticus 19:18 tells us: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.“
Getting over pain by trusting God
Getting over someone offending or hurting you can be very difficult if you don’t trust God. Trusting God means that you have faith in knowing that He can control or fix the situation at hand. God is all-knowing and all-powerful! He sees all and He knows all of what we experience. So when someone hurts us and doesn’t see the need to repent, God is well aware of the offense and how it has impacted our lives. With this, God has His own perfect way of vindicating us from situations that are out of our control. In Romans 12: 19 KJV, God tells us:
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.Romans 12: 19 KJV
God requires us to surrender our pain and anger over the offense of others so that He can avenge us on His terms—not ours. Indeed, forgiveness is an important part of surrendering our problems over to God because it allows us to release any emotional attachment that is keeping us in bondage to the offense of others. Overall, forgiveness is an act of wisdom that can strengthen our relationship with God so that He can supply all of our needs in due time.