“All should be forgiven, and the thoughtless especially.”
Leo Tolstoy, Where Love Is (New York, 1915), page 20.
The Lord taught us to forgive at two levels.
Deep in our hearts, forgiveness is unconditional, since God has forgiven us: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). This forgiveness is absolute, before God.
At the level of our relationships, forgiveness is conditional: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). After all, how can one forgive a sin that hasn’t been confessed? For the relationship to be restored, the sinning brother must repent.
But what if he doesn’t repent? Or doesn’t even realize the harm he has done? Sadly, the relationship remains broken. But deep within, “. . . and the thoughtless especially.” This is the most costly forgiveness, because it is unseen, unthanked.
But God sees. As in everything else, all that ultimately matters is who God is, what God says, how God works.