We must also remember that in order to be truly repentant, we must show that we have changed for the better. If you repent publically for your sins, but then go right back and act the same way that you did before you repented, then you have not really learned from your mistakes. A person who has really repented will change his or her behavior for the better, and he or she will also want to make right the wrongs that he or she has committed against others as much as is possible. The idea that some people have is that if a person claims to repent, but does not try to make amends with those he or she has knowingly done wrong, then that person is still forgiven. Matthew 3:8 says, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:”. In order to be forgiven by God and by others, a person must not only ask for forgiveness, but also show signs of positive change. If someone who has done wrong to me comes up to me and asks for my forgiveness, I will accept it and forgive him or her as many times as this person asks for my forgiveness as we are commanded to do, but I should see positive change after the request for forgiveness. God is the only One who has the power to forgive us for our sins, and we do not have the power to forgive others except in the instances that God says we can do so.
As was said in Part 1 of this article, not forgiving someone who has not repented and asked for forgiveness is not the same as holding a grudge against that person. We, as Christians, should never harbor ill feelings toward anyone, and although we should hate sin, we should always show kindness and love toward anyone who does us wrong. At the same time, we should take the time to teach those who have done us wrong to do better in hopes that they will repent and change their ways for the good. We can teach others how they should conduct themselves through our verbal speech and through our actions as well. Setting boundaries and consequences with people who consistently do us wrong is also important. By showing some people that there are consequences to their sinful actions, then it is our hope that we can help that person "wake up" and change for the better. If a person does change and does ask our forgiveness, then it would be sin on our part if we do not forgive that person.
I hope that this article helps shed some light on when it is Biblically correct to forgive or not forgive others who have done wrong toward us. I also hope that there will be more Christians out there who are strong enough to take the initiative to teach others the error of their ways, rather than sweeping the sin “under the rug” so to speak without trying to help them. To avoid helping others reach Heaven is selfish and dangerous not only for the souls of those who have done us wrong, but also dangerous for our souls as well. We should think about what Jesus was willing to do in order for our sins to be forgiven. If He was willing to openly rebuke those who were in the wrong and if He was willing to die for our sins, then it is the LEAST we can do to take the risk of making someone mad in exchange for possibly helping to win a soul for God.