What should I do about a person who harmed me but hasn’t asked for forgiveness?


A brother had some time ago committed sin indirectly and has yet to apologize or ask for forgiveness. I had expected him to help with our youth program and he was very instrumental in it. We had a special night and he reneged. I later found out he had been out indulging in worldly things. It has been months and he has yet to come to me and explain his actions. I have yet to forgive him to his face and our once strong relationship has been strained and has not been the same. He is struggling with worldly sin and does sometimes attend church but it is apparent that he is battling within. His once exuberant fire is gone and he is no longer as active in the church as once before nor involved in the youth program. Please, can you provide some insight?


It is disappointing to have a friend break the trust that you placed in him. Paul had a problem with a young man named John Mark. "Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing." Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God" (Acts 15:36-40). We don't know why John Mark abandoned the group on the first trip, but we can see how disappointed Paul was in this young man. He didn't want to experience it again.

The odd thing is that Paul was wrong about this particular man. He did change; to the point that in Paul's old age, Paul wrote: "Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry" (II Timothy 4:11). Whom Paul once was willing to discard had become valuable to him.

I don't know if your friend will make a change or not, but you need to stop seeing a man who disappointed you in the past and see the man sinking under the weight of sin. The disappointment he caused you is a minor thing -- you can get over that. But the struggle with worldliness will kill his soul if he can't find a way out. "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:1-2). The spiritual does not wait for the struggling to come back. They gently reach out. The reason is simple: too often problems between individuals don't get solved because both sides are just too stubborn to make the first move. A Christian ought to be able to ignore his pride and make the first move toward reconciliation.

Tell your friend that you've noticed that his fire is dimming. Tell him what you know about his struggles. Offer to help.

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 20-23).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email