One of the most overlooked aspects of forgiveness is HOW to ask for it. Asking for forgiveness should not be done according to human wisdom nor simply generated by emotional intensity. Asking for forgiveness should, instead, be based on biblical truth, especially with regard to personal responsibility and esteeming others as more important than one’s self. If you are a believer in Christ and ask another person to forgive you, be sure to speak the truth about your sin(s). Truth means “bringing everything to light.”

Ephesians 4:25, Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

The following examples demonstrate how scriptural guidelines can help you realize God’s purposes through biblical forgiveness. The examples demonstrate that there is more to biblical forgiveness than the question, “Will you forgive me?”


Since asking for forgiveness involves your mention of personal wrongdoings, DO NOT judge or bring up another person’s failures in your confession. For example, you could say, “Please forgive me for slamming the door in your face.” Do not say, “Please forgive me for slamming the door in your face when you called me stupid.” Since there is no valid excuse for sinning, do not give excuses for failing to be Christ-like. For example, you could say “Please forgive me for using unwholesome words.” Don’t say, “Please forgive me for using unwholesome words, but I was having a bad day.”

􏰀It is often helpful to practice asking for forgiveness by first writing it and, then, saying it out loud. In addition to practicing what you will say, prepare for various responses from the other person by writing and rehearsing what you would do and say if the other person replies with statements such as “Oh, that’s all right” (minimizing sin) or “Don’t worry about it” (avoiding a commitment to forgive) or “People do that all the time” (making excuses for sinful behavior) or “I will not forgive you” (refusing to reconcile) or “I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.

􏰀 As a believer, when you ask for forgiveness, stay focused on Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2) and be ready to explain the difference Jesus has made in your life (1 Peter 3:13-17).

In response to “Oh, that’s all right” or “Don’t worry about it” or “People do that all the time,” you might say, “Even though my actions may not have bothered or offended you, I recognize that my actions toward you were unloving, contrary to what the Bible teaches, and not pleasing to God. Since my desire is to be more Christ-like and to love you God’s way, would you please forgive me?”

􏰀If the offended person says, “I won’t forgive you,” you might respond with, “I am deeply sorry that I have so offended you. I regret that I was unloving to you and not acting as the Bible teaches me to do. I have made a commitment to live in a more Christ-like manner in our relationship and will be praying that our future interaction will demonstrate that commitment.”

If you ask for forgiveness and hear a response similar to, “I will forgive you but I won’t forget it,” you might say, “I regret being part of such a painful memory in your life. My behavior was certainly unloving. I commit to act and speak in such a way that our future relationship will, hopefully, be surrounded by much better remembrances.”

After developing and reviewing your plan to ask for forgiveness, consider the BEST TIME to approach the person whom you have wronged. When the person is not busy, ask if you can discuss your failure. If that time is not appropriate for the other person, ask if there is another time in which a conversation may take place.

As you follow scriptural guidelines when asking another for forgiveness, you honor the Lord and demonstrate the difference that Jesus Christ has made in your life.


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