The Must-Have for Grace-Filled Relationships

“I Need to Ask Your Forgiveness . . .” 

How often do you hear those words?

How often do you say them?

I hope those words are a common staple in your home and in your church. Because, let’s be real—we all mess up, and we’re all in need of much grace—which means we all should be asking forgiveness often.

This month we’ve been studying the book of Colossians and today we reach the rich section of the book that gives us the picture of what it looks like to live out what we believe. There is a long and descriptive section (vv. 12–17) that I refer to as the template for relationships. A foundational building block for grace-filled relationships is giving and receiving forgiveness.

Why is asking forgiveness so hard? Asking forgiveness never comes easy, and I’ve found that when I resist seeking forgiveness, my heart is always the problem. These are some of the heart issues I struggle with when it comes to asking forgiveness:

  • It’s not all my fault.

When pride has captivated my thinking, I’ll be more focused on how wrong you are, rather than admitting where I’m wrong.

  • Justification comes easier than forgiveness.

I can justify my anger, the silent treatment, or harboring resentment, if I keep focusing on what you’ve done wrong. If I ever shift my focus to the cross, then my personal justification crumbles.

  • You’ll take advantage of me.

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “If I forgive you again, won’t you just keep doing the same thing?” Forgiveness doesn’t mean that I release you from accountability and I need to remind myself that I’m not the one that you will ultimately answer to. If my heart is set toward the cross, my concern won’t be whether I’m being taken advantage of, but my concern will be on forgiving you as I’ve been forgiven by Christ.

  • It’s not that big of a deal.

If we procrastinate or downplay the need to seek forgiveness, we can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit and develop a hardened heart. Don’t allow things to pile up, don’t let issues go unresolved. If you recognize that you’ve wronged someone, go to them quickly and seek their forgiveness.

[box]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. Settle matters quickly . . .” (Matthew 5:23–25)[/box]

How has studying this section of Colossians impacted your relationships?

Is there anyone you need to forgive or seek their forgiveness?

Image courtesy of bigjom/


  • Julie Musil

    Yesterday I saw an example of this. We were at a cross country meet, and some girls from an opposing team said something unkind about our team. Our kids were stung by it, but they ran their race with strength and grace (in the rain!). Before our bus left, those same girls came to our bus and asked for forgiveness. I was so impressed by them. Asking for forgiveness, and giving forgiveness, takes a lot of courage. Thankfully God gives us that courage.

  • kyrie

    What if you’ve sincerely repented and asked forgiveness but his heart is so hard. He just throws it back in my face and refuses to forgive. It’s not Christian but that’s where I am right now.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Kyrie ~

    I’m so sorry for the pain you’re experiencing due to this conflict (in your marriage?). You can’t make another person forgive you, all you are responsible for is your own actions and your response to others’ mistreatment of you. The important thing to remember is where you stand with God when you seek His forgiveness:

    “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

    “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

    Be careful, at this point, that you don’t take up an offense and grow bitter because of his refusal to forgive. If you are truly repentant, understand that you will need to demonstrate grace to him–the same grace you’ve been shown, as he is hurt and his heart is hard. May the lovingkindness and grace that you show to him (while he is refusing to forgive) be a means of grace in his life that will allow him to be drawn to the grace of Christ:

    “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

    Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:12–17)

    Pausing to pray for you ~