When They Refuse to Forgive You

Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matt. 18:21-22 (NASB) 

When you have a conflict with someone Scripture calls upon you to do what you can to resolve it. This can happen immediately  after the conflict (best case scenario)or at any point following. No matter when it happened, it has to be resolved. 

First, you must get the log out of your own eye (Matt. 7:1-5).  Examine yourself and your conduct in the conflict. Were you unkind, offensive, or cruel? Did you intentionally set out to hurt or malign the person? Ask the Lord to search your heart (Ps. 139:23) and reveal to you what your part in the conflict or disagreement was.  Once you see your part, then you confess it to God as sin.

Once you confess it to God, then you must repent of it. Repentance is more than "I am sorry" or "I apologize" it involves several distinct spiritual and actual changes. When you repent of your sin you see it for what it is and determine to turn away from it because it doesn't glorify God. 

Once you confess and repent you go to the person you have conflict with. Confess your sin to them and ask them to forgive you.  At this point the relationship should be restored. 

But what if it isn't sin? What if it is a misunderstanding or the person is simply angry at you because you refused them something? Nonetheless they are hurt and angry with you.  Can you just let it go? Can you leave such a fracture in your relationship with them? 

"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Matthew 5:23-24 (NASB)

I have been in this position before and it is not easy whether you are dealing with a fellow Christian or an unbeliever. In such a case explain the situation to the best of your ability, be sure you tell them you meant no offense or harm and ask them to forgive you.  

"If your brother sins , go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. Matthew 18:15 (NASB)

What do you do when the person you offended (intentionally or unintentionally) refuses to forgive you? Unfortunately, I have been in this predicament too.  You are responsible before God to clean up your end of the mess and honestly, that is all you can do.  You are not responsible for the other person's unforgiving heart or for any bitterness that grows there. 

It surely is a difficult situation because I think the nature of a Christian is to be a peacemaker and a reconciler.  Our desire is to reflect the changes Christ has made in us when He forgave us of our sin.  Personally I am brokenhearted when someone refuses to forgive me, especially when I have done them no intentional wrong or harm. The only person I am responsible for is me, and the same is true for you. 

Sometimes you have to accept that relationship is broken. It may be for a time and it may be forever.  Keep showing that person the love of Christ despite how they may treat you. This is what honors God.