Scott has written a good post on the issue of forgiveness.
He writes – I believe that, if someone never asks for forgiveness, then there is no responsibility set upon us to forgive. You cannot forgive one who never asks for forgiveness. Yet, take note of this. I don’t believe that allows us to keep the door of bitterness or anger or rage open. Why? When someone has wronged us and has not asked for forgiveness, I believe our responsibility then becomes to learn to let it go and release that person in Jesus’ name to get on with their life as we get on with our life in God.
I disagree that we are only to forgive those who ask for forgiveness. While there are some Scriptures that support this, there are other Scriptures that support the idea of complete forgiveness of those who don’t ask for it.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between forgiveness and carrying wounds of the hurts. There is also a difference between forgiving someone and trusting them again. I have forgiven my ex wife for all the abuse of the past and what continues at the present… however I don’t trust her and I don’t have to.
Often as Christians we are too quick to forgive. Whether it be another, an event, God or even ourselves. The key is to first fully acknowledge the hurt that has been done to us, and despite that hurt we can then begin the process of forgiveness. If we don’t do this, often our forgiveness looks a little like clenched fists and gritted teeth and we work forgiveness up as a work of the flesh while the bitterness and hurt from what has happened simmers away in its destructiveness. If on the other hand we acknowledge our right to be hurt, to be angry and then can say despite this I will forgive or be willing to be made willing to forgive…. the foundation of forgiveness is solid.
Go and have a read of Scott’s post, overall he makes some good points.