So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew [5:23]–24,ESV).
Forgiveness is the starting point in restoring relational harmony—there are no enduring relationships without it. Truly forgiving means you’ve released someone from the debt they incurred when they hurt you. But forgiveness goes both ways, and we need to seek it as well as grant it.
It’s important to be intentional about pursuing forgiveness—and it may be harder to ask someone to forgive you than it is to forgive them. We’re not talking about a quick “sorry.” That has nothing to do with requesting forgiveness; it’s just telling someone how you feel and not really giving them a chance to respond.
The most effective (and sometimes fear producing) way to gain forgiveness is to actually ask for it. Admit what you did wrong and then say only, “Will you forgive me?” And stop there. It’s not “If I did something wrong” (you know you did), or “I didn’t mean to,” which excuses what you did. Nor is it, “I know you got hurt,” which subtly shifts the blame on them for being too sensitive.
True forgiveness is sought with simply, “I was wrong. I have no excuse. Will you forgive me?”
Written by James MacDonald
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