If someone won’t forgive me, what should I do?

We are called to forgive, but what if others do not want to forgive us? How far must we go to win the forgiveness of others?

Patrick called from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to pose this scenario to Fr. Richard Simon, host of Father Simon SaysTM on Relevant Radio®:

“Let’s say Person A has offended Person B and has caused them emotional harm. So then, Person A realizes they have caused Person B harm so they go to seek Person B’s forgiveness. Person A is trying to get their forgiveness, has asked for forgiveness, but Person B does not want to, does not respond to that seeking out of forgiveness. What is Person A supposed to do, or what is their moral culpability?” asked Patrick.

“Nothing! If they have apologized sincerely, they have no moral culpability,” said Fr. Simon. “The word to forgive—of course, we’re talking Greek here because the New Testament’s written in first century Greek—the word forgive means to let go. So what you do if someone—it doesn’t matter if they don’t respond to you, you have done your job. You have let them go and you have asked them to let you go. So now the ball’s in their court.”

The worth of your apology is not contingent upon whether or not that person decides to extend their forgiveness. “You’ve done your best. Unless you’ve caused them material harm you should make them whole. In other words, if you’ve stolen from them or badmouthed them to another person, you should make restitution. I think, if you’ve gossiped about someone, go to the people to whom you’ve gossiped. That’s really hard to take back so just say, you know I was wrong and they’ve got a lot of good qualities. So, you make restitution and reparation, but you’ve done your job,” explained Fr. Simon.

Bear with one another and forgive one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. – Colossians 3:13


Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.