You may remember last fall when I wrote a post about forgiveness. I had encountered a guy who believed it was inappropriate to forgive someone until they asked for it. In fact, he went so far as to say it was unbiblical.

Well, I ran into him again. This time we talked about asking for forgiveness when you don’t believe you did wrong.  Two specific situations came up in the discussion (there was a group of about 15 of us, which is also known as a class).

Situation 1:

A person says you did something that you did not do. They are offended. The question became is it appropriate to ask for forgiveness. Some said that we should and others said that we simply because someone is offended, that doesn’t mean that anything that was done was wrong.  The argument back was that it didn’t matter if it was wrong or not, the relationship was fractured and that was wrong. The basic gist was that asking for forgiveness doesn’t require much from the person except humility.

Situation 2:

Someone then brought up scenario #2.  What do you do if someone says you did something wrong and either it is a lie, or you believe it’s a lie. Do you ask for forgiveness in order to repair the “fractured relationship” or do you refuse to ask forgiveness, instead forcing the person to deal with the truth. At this point, the class broke into a verbal free for all with opinions raining in from all sides like confetti during a championship parade.

So what are your thoughts?

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8 Comments(+Add)

1   Christian P
March 9th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Perception is 9/10 of the law. Wait… that doesn’t sound right.

For #2, believing something is a lie and something actually being a lie are two completely different things. If you know for a fact (which is rare) that a person is lying, of course you should ask for forgiveness and you should point out how and why it is a lie because they are acting purposefully. If you don’t know if it’s a lie, they may really believe it, which means that the situations should be handled more gently, the same way scenario #1 is handled.

So how should #1 be handled? Humbly, maybe even apologetically, but still proclaiming the truth. For instance, I imagine these situations would be most gray in issues of “he said, she said.” Where two different people take the same sentence to mean two completely different things. So the offender might apologize and ask forgiveness for the way something was said and then rephrase to better communicate.

2   Joe
March 9th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

One of the arguments in the class was that whether or not someone believes something is a lie has nothing to do with whether or not it is a lie.
The basic argument was that if you ask forgiveness, you are validating a lie.

3   Phil Miller
March 9th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

It depends on the nature of the supposed offense. It the offense was actually something that happened that someone completely misinterpreted for whatever reason, I wouldn’t have any problem asking for their forgiveness. Of course, even then, I’d say there is a line. If I complimented someone by saying, “you’re looking good today!” and somehow they took that to mean I was saying they looked like crap on all other days, I don’t know that I could honestly ask for forgiveness. I suppose I could apologize for not being as clear as possible, but at some point, the issue becomes something they need to deal with on their end.

The other issue is the matter of apologizing for something that actually never happened. In that case, I believe offering an apology would actually be perpetuating a lie, so it shouldn’t be done.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should just let thing die at that. Obviously, we should try to get to the actual truth of the matter, and find out why the false accusation was brought up in the first place.

4   Rick Frueh
March 9th, 2010 at 7:06 pm

My own view is that forgiveness, both offering and asking, should be liberal and even extravagent and rise above certain technicalities of guilt etc.. I have known people who asked for forgiveness based upon the bitterness of others and not their own guilt only to later be approached by the guilty with the acknowledgment that they knew they themselves were guilty and were convicted over time of that fact.

Eventually the grace (unmerited) of forgiveness asked of them was used of the Spirit to open their hearts.

5   Jerry
March 10th, 2010 at 9:53 am


I’d say erring on the side of grace is always the best option. I’m not sure why yet since that forces us into a rather undignified position, but it seems to me that I read somewhere in the Scripture something about it being better to be wrong(ed).

Who knows? God wastes his grace on us.


6   Mike    
March 11th, 2010 at 9:54 am

Ok, just to throw a question out there. Does apologizing = repenting? If you apologize, but don’t feel you did anything wrong (you are just placating someone’s hurt feelings) then is that really repenting because you aren’t turning away from your original behavior…

7   Chris L
March 11th, 2010 at 10:52 am

Does apologizing = repenting?

Mike – I think it depends.

In the broadest sense, probably not automatically. An apology can really about how you handled a situation – even if the ultimate outcome of the situation wouldn’t have been different if you’d handled it in a different way. (i.e. what you had to do was going to hurt the other person, no matter what, and it was not something to be repented from BUT you handled it in a way that could have been more tactful/sensitive/etc.).

8   Mike    
March 11th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

That was kind of what I was thinking. I would apologize if I hurt someone’s feelings or was less than tactful. I might not apologize because I told someone something that they didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear.