“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Matthew 5: 44 King James Version)
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught his disciples, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. He not only taught the truth but was himself the truth incarnate. He said, “I am the way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14: 6 ). So on the cross he perfectly exsemplified his teaching of the mount as he prayed for his enemies, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
In Matthew 5: 44 Jesus did not exhort his disciples to forgive their enemies, but he does exhort them to “pray” for them. But are we not to forgive those who wrong us? This leads us to a point concerning much need for instruction. Does Scripture teach that under all circumstances we must always forgive? “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times a day, and seven times a day turn again to thee saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” (Luke 17: 3,4 ). Here we are plainly taught that a condition must be met by the offender before we may pronounce forgiveness. The one who has wronged us must first “repent”, that is judge himself or herself for his or her wrong and give evidence of his or her sorrow over it. But suppose the offender does not repent? Then I am not to forgive the offender. But let there be no misunderstanding of our meaning here. Even though the one who has wronged me does not repent, nevertheless, I must not harbor ill-feelings against him. There must be no hatred or malice cherished in the heart. Yet on the other hand, I must not treat the offender as if he had done no wrong. That would be to condone the offence, and therefore I should fail to uphold the requirements of righteousness, and this the beliver is always to uphold.
Does God ever forgive where there is no repentance? No, for the Scripture declares, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1: 9). If one has injured me and does not repent, while I cannot forgive him and treat him as though he had not offended, nevertheless, not only must I hold no malice in my heart against him, but I must also pray for him. Here is the value of Christ’s perfect example: if we cannot forgive, we can pray for God to forgive him.
If you have ever been so wounded by someone that you cannot find it in your heart to pray for God to forgive him or her, call upon the Holy Spirit to help you pray. Romans 8:26, 27 says: — the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He (God) who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints (you and me) according to the will of God.