A Failure to Forgive or Apologize
Where there is a lack of forgiveness, a wall goes up between the parties involved. Healthy relationships include both apologies and forgiveness.
God Calls Us to Forgive.
God calls us to forgive in all circumstances. A bible passage tell us, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
What if the person never apologizes for their behavior? Then, we are to forgive them in our heart, even if we never have an opportunity to express our forgiveness toward them. God wants us to forgive others for our own sake as well as theirs. When we harbor ill will over a wrong someone committed against us, it can cause a bitterness that grows and festers. Until we release that bitterness by truly forgiving the other person, we will suffer emotionally and even mentally and physically. God doesn’t want us to hurt and suffer. He wants us to release our burden to Him so He can heal our heart.
The passage in Matthew says that if we don’t forgive others for their sins, then God won’t forgive us for ours. I don’t know about you, but I definitely need God’s forgiveness in my life! I am a sinner, and I need God to forgive me for my wrongdoing. Withholding forgiveness for others is not worth the trade-off of holding back God’s forgiveness in my own life. If we love God, we will want to forgive others out of a heart that longs to obey Him. This especially includes forgiving our family members who have wronged us.
We need to recognize that, in most situations, forgiving someone in our heart takes time. It is not instant. The amount of time it takes to fully forgive usually correlates with the severity of the offense. However, we can make a conscious choice not to wallow in our negative feelings any longer. It is okay to recognize that your anger and hurt are natural. However, make the decision to put the issue behind you and remind yourself of this decision whenever the emotional pain surfaces. Moving forward, your relationship with that person will only be healthy if you choose not to focus on your hurt feelings.
Again, when we don’t forgive others, not only does it damage our relationships, but it also creates emotional, mental, and physical problems for us. We need to forgive for the sake of our relationships and our overall well-being.
God Calls Us to Apologize.
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."
In this passage, Jesus says that we need to reconcile with an individual who has something against us. We can see how important this point is to the Lord. He tells us not to go to God with a gift at the altar until we rectify our relationship with the other person.
This means we need to sincerely apologize and make things right in our relationships when we have done something wrong. Our loved ones are often the people we hurt the most, and then we hurt them further when we fail to apologize. We justify our anger, or we blame our family members in some way. Instead, we need to apologize for the wrongs we have committed against them. Then, we should try to make the situation right. Did you borrow money from your brother and fail to pay him back? You need to not only say you are sorry but also make a plan for repaying the money. Did you promise your mother that you would help with a holiday meal but then forget to do it? You need to apologize and do something to show that you want to make up for the mistake, such as hosting the next family event.
Healing for Our Heart
Remember, forgiving others who have hurt us and apologizing for our own sinful behavior not only heals relationships and helps the other parties, but it also helps to heal our own hearts. When we harbor ill will against a family member because of something they have done to us, then a hardness develops in our heart, perpetuating our anger and bitterness toward that person. Having such feelings is not emotionally healthy, and it keeps us from maintaining a close relationship with God. The Lord has told us to make our relationships right and then come to His altar.
Is there someone in your family that.you need to forgive in your heart? Is there a family member that you need to apologize to? Ask God to help find the right words and take the first step toward healing your family relationship.