It is not easy to ask forgiveness. Yet as followers of Jesus, God expects us to take care of personal business before we take care of the spiritual. “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” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Ideally, the best is to meet face-to-face. The second best is a phone call. Yet for many people, those meetings are overwhelming and too unpredictable to initiate. So I’ve developed some simple form letters! Rather than do nothing, one can use a form letter and adapt it to his/her own style.
LETTER #1 Dear ______, It has been a long time. I am writing because I need to. You are important to me and I have already waited too long. I want to apologize for my past actions. I’m sorry for hurting you. Please forgive me. Sincerely, ______
LETTER #2 Dear ______, You are probably surprised to hear from me. It has been a long time. I am writing because I need to clear my conscience. In the past, when there were situations or conflicts that were hurtful, I would choose to avoid someone, rather than attempt to resolve the problem. But the closer I walk with Jesus, He is showing me that closing doors will not heal relationships. It only temporarily helps avoid an uncomfortable situation. God is good. He has forgiven me for all my shortcomings! Now out of gratitude to Him, I am apologizing to you for my past action. I am sorry for hurting you. Please forgive me. Sincerely, ______
LETTER #3 Dear ______, I have been thinking about you. I have also been praying for you and hoping your life is going well. The reason you’ve been on my mind is because I want to confess to you that I was so wrong in what I did. I offer no defense and no excuses or rationalizations. I was wrong, and I have lived with the guilt and shame ever since. I am writing to ask your forgiveness. I can understand why you would not give it. But I want you to know that I am so sorry for what I did. Please forgive me. I will continue to pray for you and hope for your best. Sincerely, _______
If your letters are returned unopened, you might send a postcard with a simple: “I am sorry. Please forgive me.”
There is great value is asking forgiveness. It could change your life. It could restore a relationship and bring deep healing to both parties. It could also remove any blockage that is preventing you from forgiving someone else.
- For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
- SONG: ONLY ONE LIFE – Lyrics by C.T. Studd, circa 1900; Music by Kathleen