555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

428. Are We to Forgive the Wrongdoer if He Does Not Ask It?

Christ inculcates the forgiving spirit, the spirit which loves even an enemy. It is the spirit he displayed on the cross when he prayed to his Father for the soldiers who nailed him to the cross, though they did not pray for themselves nor express contrition. Resentment is forbidden, but on the other hand, we have a right to expect regret on the part of the wrongdoer. He has no right to assume that we shall pass over his wrong as if he had never done it. If he wants our forgiveness he should ask for it; but even before he asks we must be ready to grant it. In our hearts we may already have forgiven him, but the outward and formal reconciliation waits his contrition. In Matt 18:15 there is an intimation that the one who has suffered the wrong should seek to bring about the contrition of the wrongdoer by going to him and telling him his fault If after all he withholds it, we are not required to treat him as a brother, but even then we are not to cherish resentment and especially not retaliation, but rather to return good for evil. In Matt 5:23, 24 it would seem to have been quarrels that our Lord had in mind, rather than injuries. The brother who has aught against you appears to indicate a grudge, or a debt, as the following verses suggest In any case, there is to be no quarrel. There must be reconciliation first