Can we forgive someone who does not ask for forgiveness? Should we even think of offering forgiveness when people don't want it?
We think of forgiveness as a gift in the sense that it can either be rejected or received. In many ways, forgiveness is a gift, but in some ways it is also not. People today feel stuck because they have been offended, hurt and maybe even abused by people who just don't seem to feel sorry. As a result, they get stuck because they think they cannot offer this gift of forgiveness because the offender doesn't want it.
Can we forgive someone who does not ask for forgiveness? To those who have felt trapped for so long with this question, let this truth set you free now: Yes you can.
We forgive because God has forgiven us
We cannot control the thoughts, decisions and actions of other people, but we can choose to surrender ours to Jesus Christ. Forgiving those who are unrepentant is like refusing to hold on to a hot burning coal even if there is no one to pass it on to. Just let go of it. It doesn't need a hand to stay in. That hurt, offense, grudge or brokenness doesn't need a home, but if you really must leave it somewhere, leave it at the foot of the cross.
Ephesians 4:32 says "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." We are able to forgive not because there is justice - although I believe justice can and will be served ultimately - but simply because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
Forgiveness sets you free
There are two prisoners in every offense - the offender and the victim. The treachery of sin is that it puts not just one person in jeopardy but as many as possible. Sin is so vile that it wants all of us in chains even if it's not our fault. But God wants to loosen those chains and set you free. The way He does that is He offers His open forgiveness because we have been atoned for by the blood of Christ.
Because God is just, there must be atonement. As people, we seek for the same justice, but justice has already fallen down through Christ. Matthew 6:15 says, "but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
That's the power of the cross. It can and will set you free if you allow it to. You don't have to wait for the offender to be set free for you to experience freedom today. As John 8:36 says, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."