Forgiving an offender who has apologized is essential if we are to maintain Christian unity. And how often should we forgive? Jesus told Peter: “Not, Up to seven times, but, Up to seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22) If we are unforgiving, we are working against our own interests. How so? Well, animosity and nursing a grudge will rob us of peace of mind. And if we become known for cruel and unforgiving ways, we may bring ostracism upon ourselves. (Proverbs 11:17) Holding a grudge is displeasing to God and can lead to grave sin. (Leviticus 19:18) Remember that John the Baptizer was beheaded in a scheme contrived by wicked Herodias, who was “nursing a grudge” against him.—Mark 6:19-28.
Jesus’ model prayer includes these words: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone that is in debt to us.” (Luke 11:4) If we are unforgiving, we run the risk that some day Jehovah God will no longer forgive our sins, for Jesus said: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14, 15) So if we really want to do our part in maintaining unity in Jehovah’s family of worshipers, we will be forgiving, perhaps just forgetting an offense that may have been due to thoughtlessness and lacked any evil intent. Paul said: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also.” (Colossians 3:13)