Originally posted by Cutwolf
1. When someone offends us, are we supposed to forgive them automatically or do they need to request our forgiveness before we must forgive
There's two levels to this. First, yes, we are supposed to forgive them automatically in our hearts. That does not mean, though, that you are to tell
the person you forgave them. Think about it this way. First, when you harbor resentment in your heart over an action, who is that hurting, especially
if the other person has no idea? You're sitting there fuming over it, obsessing over it, upset, letting it steal your happiness, while the other
person couldn't care less. You have to let that go, both for your own well-being and in obedience to God; we can forgive easily because we have been
forgiven so much.
As for telling the person, though, you shouldn't ever come out and tell someone you forgave them for something they did without them coming seeking
forgiveness. If I said or did something to you and you took it to mean something I didn't mean for it to mean, it could really bother you while I
don't see any problem with it. Then you come up to me and say, "I forgive you for x", to which the reply might be, "why" in good cases, and a
fight in bad situations. One possible way to handle it would be to talk to the person and tell them how much they hurt you, but don't come right out
and say, "I forgive you".
Another reason for forgiving someone in your heart before they ask is to be prepared when they do. If you've been hurt badly by someone and wait
until they come to you seeking forgiveness, all of that resentment, bitterness and hurt will be brought back to the surface when they come to you. If
you have already forgiven them, though, it will be far easier to accept their apology and possibly even help them through what is obviously causing a
struggle in themselves.
2. When someone sins (offends God), are they required to ask for forgiveness or will God forgive them automatically?
Yes (kinda) and yes. The moment you claim the ultimate sacrifice, the blood of Christ as your atoning salvation, you are forgiven of all sins, past
present and future. Christ died on the cross that we may live, fulfilling Mosaic law completely and bridging the gap humanity's sin has caused
between us and God.
However, we should still come to Him asking for forgiveness. Not because it's required, but because it draws us closer to God and forces us to rely
on His strength for our repentance, that is rectifying the behavior that led us into the sin in the first place. When Christ gave us an outline for
prayer (The Lord's prayer, Matt. 6:9-13), one of the key components was asking for forgiveness as well as forgiving others. This is not to say that
this format of prayer must always be followed. In doing that, we get into legalism and Christ didn't even follow that as a rule, but rather a guide.
So asking for forgiveness is not
required. After all, Paul wrote, "All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. All things
are permissible, but not all things are helpful" (1 Cor 6:12, 1 Cor 10:23). It is
beneficial to ask God for forgiveness!