When It’s Your Turn to Ask for Forgiveness
Marti Wibbels, MS, LMHC
Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance (Ephesians 5:1-2, AMP).
We can ask God to show us when we need to apologize and/or make amends for wrongs we have done, relying on the Holy Spirit and in God’s Word for guidance. In John 16: 7-8, Jesus said, It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment...
For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
When is it time to ask for others’ forgiveness?
- When our words and actions haven’t exhibited God’s unconditional love.
- When we’ve been impatient, unkind, or selfish, valuing ourselves more than others.
- *When we’ve gossiped: The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body (Proverbs 18:8, ESV).
- *When we’ve participated in a conversation or failed to correct someone who is practicing slander (assassinating someone’s reputation): A good name is to be desired more than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1, NASB).
*It’s possible to do more harm than good if we tell someone, “I’m sorry; I’ve been gossiping about you,” or “I’ve been criticizing you behind your back.” Elbert Hubbard said, “Reversing your treatment of the man you have wronged is better than asking for his forgiveness.” If you’ve practiced gossip or slander, stop immediately. Confess it to God, per 1 John 1:9, and wholeheartedly live in God’s love, kindness, and Truth.
- When we’re lying to ourselves or others. Whether a lie is covert or overt, it could be rooted in deceptive, self-protective actions. Even repeatedly being late could be a subtle form of lying (selfishly seeing our time/plans/schedule as more valuable than others’ time). If inconsistencies between your words and actions have become a form of rationalization (rational lies), allow God to transform you. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything (Ephesians 4:15, MSG).
Colossians 3:23 urges us to work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men (AMP). When people disappoint us, overlook our kindness, or disrespect what we’ve done for them—it’s vital to remember to keep doing our work for the LORD!
Dr. Fred Luskin, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, defines forgiveness as “the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell. Forgiveness is the experience of peacefulness in the present moment. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it changes the present.”
Dear ones, let’s live in forgiveness and love! Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8, NASB). I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first,’ doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end (1 Corinthians 13: 3b-7, MSG).