This question arises in part out of the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 6:14-15. Jesus said, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, you heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
Many Christians have been thrown into dismay and fear when they hear these words because they are very aware of the reality that they have not forgiven someone who has deeply hurt them. In fact, they may be completely against forgiving this person, believing it would be wrong and inappropiate to do so.
However, the question also arises out of the misleading belief that forgiveness and salvation are the same thing. Forgiveness is the foundation for salvation. And forgiving other people is one of the fruits of salvation, but salvation is more than forgiveness. Salvation is more than forgiveness in much the same way that a marriage is more than the wedding day, and more than how a man treats his wife on any one day. A marriage is a kind of relationship. Salvation is a kind of relationship, too. Salvation is a relationship with God through a trusting, dependent faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
When a man and a woman get married, they do not instantly become a perfect husband or a perfect wife. They must learn. They must grow. And they will fail at times to love each other as they should, as they promised to on their wedding day. But they are still married. As in a marriage, we must learn how to grow in our relationship with God. We learn how to follow Him, how to let Him heal and transform us. And during that time, which last our entire life, we will find that we fail to love Him as we should. Does that mean that our relationship with Him is terminated? No, of course not.
Salvation is built on forgiveness and includes forgiveness, but salvation is more than being forgiven and more than forgiving others. It is possible to be saved and to fail to forgive someone who has hurt you. However, in His salvation, God will be moving you towards becoming the kind of person who does forgive others, even those who have hurt you the most. Be willing to let God do this in your life and you will be on the right track.