Can a Christian be forgiven if they won’t forgive?

The difficulty with the Christian life is that despite being Christians we aren’t perfect.  This means that at times we may hold grudges and not be willing to forgive just the same as a Christian may continue to struggle with issues such as lust, lying, or anger.

Just because we are not perfect does not mean that we stop striving for perfection though.  We must constantly be working to better ourselves and forgiveness is a big area.  In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to pray “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  People who pray that pray are asking that God forgive them on the basis that they have forgiven others.  Anyone who prays that prayer and who has not forgiven someone else is essentially asking God not to forgive them.  This is obviously a serious issue.

There are two kinds of forgiveness in Christianity.  The first is the forgiveness of our sins at the time of salvation.  Our sins are erased on the basis of Jesus’ death on the cross.  Every Christian has this and it can’t be undone.  What some Christians don’t have is the daily forgiveness of their sins.  As mentioned earlier we are not perfect and continue to sin even after we become Christians.  As before we were saved sin affects our relationship with God.  The more we sin, the worse our relationship with God. 

Daily asking forgiveness of our sins not only keeps our relationship right with God, it keeps our focus on Him.  It reminds us that our forgiveness is from God and has nothing to do with how “holy” we are.  A person who won’t forgive others has no right to ask God to continue to forgive them however and their relationship with God suffers.

In Matthew 18 Jesus told a parable about a man who was forgiven a debt that he could never repay by the king.  However that man went and held another man to a much smaller debt that was owed to him.  When the king heard about this he was furious and had the man thrown into prison for his inability to forgive a debt despite the fact that he had a much greater one forgiven.  Some believe that this passage warns of a loss of salvation while others hold that salvation can never truly be lost.  Whatever one’s interpretation is, everyone can agree upon the fact that the situation is not good and the man should have forgiven the small debt as he had been forgiven a great one.

Christians should be forgiving, plain and simple.  It may not affect one’s salvation but it definitely affects one’s relationship with God.

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