Most of the time when we talk about forgiveness we’re talking our forgiving someone who has wronged us, but there are times when we need to ask others to forgive us. Think about it; when we finally realized that the things we were doing to ourselves and others apart for the will and love of God were really done against God.
Psalm 51:1-4 NIV Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
We asked God to forgive us, and because we asked through Christ, He did.
Matthew 6:9-13 NIV “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Psalm 25:7 NIV Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord , are good.
Romans 4:7-8 NIV “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
Until yesterday I read Matthew 5:23-24 to say when I come before God, in prayer, and I remember someone who has done something to me I need to go forgive them then come back and resume my conversation with God. That is what the scripture says. However after reading a devotion by Michael Youssef, which I will share with you, I now believe that the Jesus was also saying that if I was the one that has done the wrong, or perceived wrong, I need to go to that person and ask for their forgiveness.
When I ask God to forgive me for doing something outside His will that impacted someone else, I also need to ask forgiveness from the person that I did it to. If that person is a Christian brother or sister God commands them to forgive me.
If they don’t forgive me I’ve obeyed God, they haven’t. The opposite is also true. If a brother or sister comes to you and asks forgiveness then God commands you to forgive them (See The Bible Says That Forgiveness Is Mandatory).
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The Importance of Putting Things Right
By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
When it comes to the issue of forgiveness, sooner or later, we find ourselves on both sides of the fence. But whether we are in need of another person’s forgiveness or struggling to forgive someone who’s hurt us, the desire to put things right keeps our connection with God strong.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). If you have deliberately wronged someone and have not made restitution, you can offer all the sacrifices you want. But what God really wants you to do is reconcile with your brother.
At first, Jesus’ words may sound strange. Why shouldn’t God hear our prayers when we are in need of another person’s forgiveness? After all, our heavenly Father is in the forgiveness business. That’s what makes a relationship with Him possible in the first place. But once we’ve been reconciled to God, He calls us to reconcile with everyone else we know. And that is why if you have wronged someone and have not taken care of that wrong by making restitution, the Bible feels so heavy. You may avoid reading the Word of God, and your prayer life is crippled. Your lines of communication with the Lord have come down.
But you can restore communication with the Lord as you seek to restore relationships with others, putting things right so that you honor God, love others, and prevent your prayers from being hindered.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for not letting me neglect to seek forgiveness from others for the ways that I wrong them. I know it is good for me and for my relationships to seek reconciliation. Help me to do so with humility and grace. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).