As a Christian, do I have forgive people if they’re not repentant of what they did to me?

I would have gone to Hell.

But let me back up.

I committed my life to Christ about three years ago.  Christ poured His love out on me.  I wanted to serve Him–desperately!  He had given me so much!  I wanted to be like the woman who poured out perfume on His feet.

I committed my life to Christ in a Saturday night church.  I was exuberant. I drove home in hyper joy.  I couldn’t wait to share my story with my mom.

It isn’t always a good idea to drive when you’re super excited.  I might have been speeding.  No doubt, I probably was.

Now, I knew speeding was wrong.  If I thought about it long enough, I would even realize it was a sin.  So it is no stretch of the imagination to say that I was sinning against God by my speeding.

What if I had lost control of the car and been hit by an oncoming truck?

Well, if we were consistent about what we sometimes say about forgiveness  . . .

I would have gone to Hell.

Imagine me standing before the gates of Heaven.  I try to pull on the gate, and it’s locked.

.            .            .            .            .            .            .            .            .            .

“God!” I yell frantically.  “It’s me!  I just received You into my heart!  I love you, Jesus!”

An angel skulks over to the door.  “What do you want?” the angel asks.

“Please!” I say.  “Let me in!  I received Christ in my life!”

“Nothing doing,” the angel says.

“What?” I ask in horror.

“God saw what you did.  You were speeding.”

“Speeding . . but . .”

“Speeding is a sin.”

“Yes . . but . .”

“Did you ask forgiveness for that sin?”

“Well . . . . . . . no . . but . .”

“Did you even repent?”

“Well, I didn’t actually repent yet, but–”

“Then what makes you think you’re getting into Heaven?”

“–But . . I . . .”

“–And that’s not even to mention all the songs you didn’t delete off your Ipod yet.”

“But I didn’t have time–”

“You weren’t even thinking of deleting those off.  You wouldn’t have deleted those off for another six months!”

“Well, but–”

“And what about that sin in your heart you’re holding onto that you don’t even realize is there?  It would have taken months before you’d even see that sin for what it is.”


“Actually, you have no idea all the reeking, stinking sin you were entangled with when you died.  Some of it was so deep down you didn’t even think about it.  Other sins you would have waited months to get rid of, you were so attached to them!  Yes, you treasured sins that you didn’t even know you had wrapped around your neck!

“. . . . Now, would you really expect God to let you into Heaven knowing all that?”

“Well . .” I whimper, ” . . . no.”

“You wouldn’t, would you?” the angel asks sternly.

“No sir,” I admit, crestfallen and terrified.

And then, the angel begins to smile.

“But . .” he says, “you’d be wrong.”

My head pops up. “What?” I gasp.

“You’d be wrong,” the angel says.

The gate creaks open.

“Jesus teaches His children their whole lives about sin and repentance and holiness,” the angel says.  “But if knowing every sin you had in your heart and repenting of every sin you ever did before you died–including rash decisions and sins of the mind–was the qualification for getting into Heaven . . the only Person who could come through these gates is the One who never had to repent of anything, Jesus Christ.

“You were saved because Jesus died for your sins,” the angel continues, “and you trusted Him.”

“Oh my,” I cry, tears streaming down my face.  “I can really come in?”  I hesitate.  “But . . what about my Ipod? Can I go fix that really quick and come back?”

“Jesus forgave all of your sins on the cross when you trusted in Him,” the angel says.  “There is no bad music on your Ipod.  There is no secret sin in your heart.  It was all nailed to the cross.  When Jesus died, He forgave you of all your sins . .  . even the ones you wouldn’t know about until you came here . . . even the ones you wouldn’t have a chance to ask repentance for–like speeding.”

I tremble in delight.

The angel can guess what I am thinking.  “Enough standing here talking to me. Run on in and worship Jesus.”

I run.

.            .            .            .            .            .            .            .            .            .

If you step on my foot, say a bad word about me, stab me in the back, forget my birthday, lose my favorite DVD, key my car, scam me when you fix my transmission, break my window, spit in my face, steal my mail, cut me off in traffic, turn my friends against me, humiliate me in front of my family, get the last roll on the all-you-can-eat buffet, overcharge me for my meal, refuse to reimburse me for returned merchandise, call me in the middle of the night to ask if I want to buy monthly pineapples from you, mess up my phone bill, tear the ear off my childhood teddy bear . . . whether you know or not, whether you forgot it, whether you care about it, whether you enjoyed it, whether or not you’re sorry . . .

I will forgive you.

I cannot imagine how I could do anything else . . .

. . . when Jesus opens the gates for me.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

(Matthew 18:21-22, NLT)


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