“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12, NIV
As human beings, we are inclined to make mistakes and mess things up on a regular basis. No matter how hard we try, it may seem that we continue to hurt others and disobey God. But what should we do after we fail and let people down?
In the Bible there is a theme of forgiveness—both asking for it and giving it. Asking for forgiveness from God and others if we have wronged them is important. Not only does it show repentance and obedience, but it also shows a witness for Christ.
Asking for Forgiveness From God
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9, NIV
Sinning against God can take many different forms. We can go against God’s will, be disobedient or take actions that do not honor Him. When this happens, we should ask for forgiveness with a repentant heart. A sincere apology should not consist of only meaningless words, but must instead be paired with action and repentance.
For example, if a person makes a commitment to read their Bible at least once a day—and then does not read their Bible for a week and apologizes to God for not spending that time with Him, their apology means nothing if that person does not then start reading their Bible. If the person apologizes and starts reading their Bible, that shows repentance.
Fortunately, we need not fear that God may reject our apologies as others might.
- 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess, God will forgive us.
- Psalm 103:12 says that as far as the east is from the west, that is how far God will remove our sin from us.
- Micah 7:19 describes God’s compassion and how sins are so far removed from God that it is as though they are hurled into the depths of the sea.
- Isaiah 43:25 refers to our sins being gone and blotted out by God.
When we come to God to ask for forgiveness, we do not have to be afraid of rejection or judgment. As Christians, Jesus has already paid for our sins through his death and resurrection (1 Peter 2:24).
Asking for Forgiveness From Others
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13, NIV
Apologies and asking for forgiveness can be hard. It means letting go of our pride and having a humble attitude. When we wrong others, asking for forgiveness may be the last thing we want to do. However, we are called to love others and to live like Christ, and part of that means setting right our wrongs with others.
Sometimes, asking for forgiveness may be as simple as a quick verbal statement or text. Other times, it may require us to make amends for our actions.
For example, suppose a person promised to help move a friend out of their house—but they forgot, and did not help the friend as they were struggling to move out. A verbal apology could be sufficient, or perhaps offering to help that friend move into their new house would help make up for the extra work and disappointment they were caused.
People may not always be gracious about accepting apologies, and sometimes they may not even be willing to let others ask for forgiveness and make amends. It is not our responsibility to make anyone accept our apology; it is only our responsibility to do our part to right our wrongs.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.