One Sunday morning I forgot a tragedy that had happened in a family's life. I had been pastor of that church for about six months and was still learning the names of the members. Most pastors are better at making their members believe they can remember all of their members names than I am. I greeted this family but said nothing about their tragedy.
The next week I was confronted by a member of this family before the first worship service. I was essentially accused of not caring about people. I blew up when I believed my character was being assassinated. I should have just taken my lumps and gone on. I should have taken into account their loss. I was clearly in the wrong.
I went to the home of the family to apologize. They never forgave me even though they said the right words. They called the church each time they had a physical problem to let it known that they did not want me visiting them in the hospital. I was not received when I went to the home to pray for them over an illness. I was met in the yard and reminded of my transgressions. I was essentially told that there was nothing that I could ever do that would result in forgiveness.
Not everyone is going to forgive you when you do something wrong. It would seem that the people in the church would be the first to forgive but sometimes they become the last.
Here is how I believe you should act when someone will not forgive you after you have asked for their forgiveness. By the way, asking for forgiveness does not include pointing out the other person's faults. It is taking full responsibility for your actions.
Take into account that the pain you have inflicted on this person may have caused them to refuse forgiving you. It is hard to forgive when you still hurt. Give the person some time. Keep hoping that he will allow forgiveness into his heart when the pain subsides.
Don't expect forgiveness if you are still committing the offense. Offended people have good reason to continue the hostility if you do so. The first step of reconciliation must be the discontinuation of the offensive action. You can't build trust while you are violating it. Duh!
A person who won't forgive you has made you their enemy. This does not necessarily mean that he is constantly fighting with you but that he refuses to be reconciled. He refuses to give forgiveness and work toward rebuilding the relationship. The purpose of war is not to continue hostility. The purpose of war is peace. You are at war with someone who will not grant peace.
Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. His attitude is to pray for good things in their lives. Pray that they have good health, are financially blessed and are happy in their lives. Don't pray self-serving prayers which will cause them to need you. This is the substance of television programs but not the way true Christianity should be lived. If you pray for them to be blessed you will not take up the offense they are giving you by not forgiving.
The Bible says that God will not forgive the person that will not forgive. This means that the unforgiving person may not be a believer. You should treat this person in that manner. This means he doesn't need to be rebuked. He needs Jesus.
Jesus told us that we would know who a person really is by what his life produces. The lack of forgiveness means that the forgiveness that Christ has given them has not taken root. It has not grown the tree of forgiveness which bears forgiveness. The lack of this characteristic is an indication that the person needs Christ. Pray for this person's salvation. He has no basis of granting forgiveness if he is not saved for he does not understand the payment of Christ for all our sins.
He is God's responsibility if he is saved.He is rejecting Jesus' blood as the basis of forgiving you if he is saved. God does not look favorably upon this. Give this person over to God to work on. He will have no peace if he is a Christian and disobeys God's command to forgive others.
You cannot make a person forgive you. However, you can keep that lack of forgiveness from making you bitter. Remember that you are already forgiven because of the blood of Jesus. He covered your sin forever on the Cross.
Lastly, keep praying, keep hoping and keep your eyes on Jesus.