Gaining Forgiveness

Gaining Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often should my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

One of the truisms of life is that people are people. We all have our abilities and strengths. And one of the things we are able to do, and possess the strength to do, is mess up. Sometimes we mess up in fairly harmless ways but at other times we can blow it royally. The “we” is intended. This means that “you” can mess up with the rest of us. 

Jesus blew the Jewish-minded people of His day away with His new perspective on things. They said of him, “He teaches with authority. He’s not like the scribes.”

Peter questioned Jesus about how often we should forgive a brother. The scribes had taught the people that 3 times was the limit. If a brother sinned against you more than  3 times then clearly his heart was in the wrong place. They based this off of an erroneous interpretation of Amos 1:3 and 2:1. So Peter thought by proposing 7 times he was being amazingly gracious. He was not prepared for Jesus’ response of “up to seventy times seven.”

This biblical mandate is hard for many of us to carry out. Sometimes, because we blow it toward others or they blow it toward us, forgiveness becomes allusive and hard to give or gain. 

I want to focus the remainder of this post toward those that have blown it with someone and that someone refuses to forgive. Please understand that by “forgiveness” I mean that the relationship is restored to the healthy norm. Following are a few thoughts on gaining forgiveness

Gaining Forgiveness | Evaluate Your Heart


Here’s a good question. When you are seeking forgiveness from someone, have you taken a moment and really checked the condition of your heart? Is it possible that the person is not forgiving you because you show no signs of remorse for the wrong committed? I realize that Jesus put no qualifiers on it. He simply said that we are to forgive because God has forgiven us. But it is hard for us in our human weakness to simply forgive and write the wrong off even though we should.

Maybe your approach to the person is inapproriate. Maybe you need to change your forgiveness-gaining tactic. Maybe, just maybe, you need to check your heart of compassion toward the offended person. Maybe, just maybe, you should stop thinking of yourself and focus on them and the pain they feel. 

People think mostly of themselves. When they have been hurt or offended that self-consideration goes into hyperdrive. Maybe, just maybe, you need to simply ask them, and listen to their answer, just why and how your actions hurt them so much. Doing so would be a huge step toward gaining the forgiveness you desire. 

Gaining Forgiveness | Check Your Motives

You may want to ask yourself a question about your true motive in attempting to gain forgiveness from someone. Are you desirous for a restored relationship for purely selfish reasons? Why do you really need them to forgive you? Does your life depend on this relationship? The answers to questions like these can be either positive or negative. Typically true born-again people want forgiveness for their mistakes. And, just as typically, true born-again people will grant it to the one that offended them. Your true and best motive should be based on your concerns for the offended party and not so much for yourself. 

Analyzing our true motives, which involves being completely honest with ourselves, is an important part of the gaining forgiveness process. Checking your motives is simply being humble. You offended them. Ask yourself if humilty on your part can move you closer to the goal of forgiveness. 

Gaining Forgiveness | Remember the Author of Forgiveness

Sadly there are times and circumstances in which people simply will not forgive you. They will not because they don’t want to. They may say to you, “I am sick of this” or something similar. They may have been so offended that they just can’t get past it. Pushing you away is merely a defense mechanism. They assume that if you are gone then they will not have to face that pain ever again. As Tony Robbins has stressed many times, “People will go to great lengths to avoid pain.” I will add that they will go to great lengths to avoid pain even if it means going against what the Lord taught about forgiving “up to seventy times seven” times. 


When someone will not forgive you no matter what you do just remember that they are likely just trying to protect themselves from further pain. Take consolation in the fact that God is not like us in any way. His ways are truly not our ways. He possesses the abilities that we do not. Even though the Bible teaches us to be imitators of God, we can never truly be like Him. When others will not forgive you it is because they are not God. 

But God will forgive you. He does have the ability and even the desire. I think you know this already. Simply ask Him to forgive you, find joy in knowing He has, and move on in faith. Learn from the pain you caused the person and try to never hurt anyone else. Leave the offended person in the loving hands of our Lord. 

I hope these words have been a blessing, 

Tony Guthrie, PhD.


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