9 Bible Verses About Forgiveness: God’s Word on Forgiving Others Who Hurt You
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart,” (Corrie ten Boom). But the Christian mantra of Forgive, forget, and move on isn't always easy.
For some, it's extremely hard, and for others impossible. It's unnatural to forgive, especially when someone really hurt us. But God says to forgive, whether it's forgiveness for others or forgiveness for ourselves, forgiveness is important to start the healing process.
Being able to forgive is wonderful. That being said, here are nine Bible verses that highlight the nine qualities of true forgiveness.
Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
- Forgiveness is an act of obedience.
God delights in your obedience, especially when you obey Him in challenging times. Obedience is a way of life for God's people. Your obedience to God is what makes your relationship with Him possible, it's the virtue that keeps you close to your heavenly father.
In this text, God urges us to forgive others. But forgiving others isn't the easiest thing to do. You might want to forgive, but when you think about the past hurts, you hesitate to forgive.
So how do you respond to this text? It's posing a challenge to you, it's challenging you whether to obey God and forgive others, or disobey God and keep holding on to unforgiveness.
But from experiences—its always better to obey God. When you follow through with God's instructions, in this case, to forgive, you are positioning yourself for His blessings of peace and healing. It's only God who can mend your broken heart and heal your wounded soul.
People's actions and words can really be demoralizing, especially if it's someone close to you. For some, you may consider it justice if you repay evil to those who hurt you. But God says to forgive, which is an act of obedience to Him. It is when you obey God that the healing process begins.
Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
- Forgiveness is an act of compassion, kindness, and mercy.
Not only does (Ephesians 4:32) encourages us to be kind and tenderhearted to those who hurt us, but it teaches us that compassion, kindness, and mercy are all qualities of God. And no wonder the Bible says "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but you delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18-19).
When people's actions and words hurt not only you, but also your children, or someone close to you. You will feel like hitting back. And it's quite normal to have such feelings—because naturally, you have an inclination to protect those close to you.
But according to this text, you will observe that God usually shower love and compassion upon His inconsiderate and rebellious people—He had all right not to, but instead of repaying them with wrath for their sinful actions—He extended forgiveness and mercy.
As a child of God, you are expected to follow God's examples. Just as God extended mercy and compassion to His rebellious people—you are expected to extend kindness, mercy, and compassion to those who hurt you. You must also avoid the temptation of withholding your goodness from those who hurt you.
Where possible, you should look for opportunities to bless and assist those who wrong you. This is challenging to do, but God is counting on you to do it. Healing often takes time, so the faster you express compassion, kindness, and mercy to those who hurt you, the sooner you will heal and recover.
Matthew 18: 21-22 "Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."
- Forgiveness is an act of Patience. Forgiveness requires patience.
And this is the exact lesson that Jesus taught Peter in these verses. The Bible says to "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13). This text says to bear with each other—this means to up to with people's unbearable actions, and unkind words.
But dealing with unkind people isn't easy, because sometimes they will take advantage of you—which usually results in you feeling vulnerable. So how do you respond when you are being taken advantage of?
The answer is found in this verse—it says to endure with love and continually forgive others. Other people may laugh, and think you are being silly, but forgiveness is an act of patience. It's through patience—while you put up with unkind people that you find inner peace, and ultimately, God's deliverance. So exorcise patience, keep praying, and wait on God to intervene.
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
- Forgiveness is an act of confession.
Do you find it hard to forgive yourself? If your answer is yes, then this verse will help. This text says to confess your sins before God, but most of us will shiver at the thoughts of our sins, much less confessing them. But confession is key for our forgiveness, both from God and from ourselves.
If you don't confess your sinful actions before God, there's a great chance that you won't forgive yourself, and most definitely God won't forgive you.
But if you confess your sins before God—He will take away the guilt and shame from your conscience - and He will heal your soul with His love.
Why should you continue to with guilt and shame when God has forgiveness in store for you—but your confession is the pathway to receive it.
Luke 23:33-34 "And when they came to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment and cast lots."
- Forgiveness is an act of courage.
This verse speaks of Jesus asking His Father to forgive the people who orchestrated his death sentence.
A deeper analogy of this text reveals that Jesus' request was one of great courage. Courage is the ability to be strong amidst pain and grief.
It was hard enough for Christ to face death—let alone to forgive the offenders—it will take courage to forgive those who have hurt you.
Jesus is your greatest example, so if He was courageous enough to forgive others - so should you.
Find that inner strength—ignore those vengeful and resentful feelings—then go ahead and forgive.
6. 1 Peter 4:8 "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins."
- Forgiveness is an act of love.
Love is the greatest gift of all. Forgiveness becomes easy when you posse God's love. Love doesn't keep records of past sins. Some people may say they forgive you, but when the time comes for them to truly prove their forgiveness, they instead use the opportunity to remind you of your past sins.
Love; forgive and forget. Love embraces and cherishes the unworthy offenders. When your heart is filled with God's love there's no room for unforgiveness, even though you may have been hurt beyond measure.
John 19:17-18 "Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him and with him two others - one on each side and Jesus in the middle."
- Forgiveness is a display of strength.
Saving humanity was the whole purpose Christ carried that Cross to Calvary. The cross represented death—the burden of sin that was too heavy to bear by anyone else. But Somehow, Christ found strength in the knowledge that men’s salvation hinged on God’s forgiveness - so He carried the cross.
Christ knew that He was going to die. But He nevertheless displayed strength—and carried the cross. He understood that His death was the only way that men would be pardoned by God, so He encouraged himself and stayed strong.
Does Christ’s display of strength mean anything to you? It takes a strong individual to bear the cruel injustices of others in the name of forgiveness.
It’s not easy being at the receiving end of injustice and cruelty. It’s painful to deal with, Christ got weary, He stumbled, He bled, but He made it to Calvary, and thank God He did.
Maybe, someone may have hurt you, and you are tempted to hold back your generosity from them. But these verses revealed that Christ carried the burdens of sinful men at His own demise: in the name of seeking God’s forgiveness for mankind.
Christ is your example, and He expects you to follow Him and do the same as He did.
You may not want to do it, but seek strength from God’s words, and continue to be generous. Your display of strength in forgiving others is not only for you—but in the context of these scriptures—to help those who have offended you.
Mark 11:25 "And whenever you stand to pray, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
- Forgiveness is an act of faith.
Why should you forgive others? Is it because you just feel like forgiving them? Is it because someone told you that you should forgive? Whatever your reason to forgive is—the bottom is—our main reason for pardoning others is because God told us that if we forgive others, He will forgive, and heal us.
Had God not mentioned forgiveness, and its benefits—we wouldn’t care too much about it.
That said, we see the working of faith in forgiveness—in the context that if we forgive others—then we can expect God to forgive us.
The nature of faith is such that we won’t see anything, but we believe in what was said by God.
It’s much easier to forgive others when you have faith in God. Those who forgive others are those who believe that in so doing God will reward and heal them.
The Bible says that we as children of God must do what He does. And forgiveness is one of the many things God is known for.
Psalm 103:10-12 "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
- Forgiveness is an attribute of God.
As a child of God, you are expected to demonstrate His characteristics. And forgiveness is one of the many characteristics that God demonstrates.
God deals with His people on the level of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. As such, you are required to do the same—to be gentle, kind, and compassionate with those that hurt you. Not to repay evil with evil, but to repay evil with good.
So if you haven’t made forgiveness a part of your life—then now is a good time to start. Because forgiveness is who God is, and who He expects you to be.
© 2018 Dexter Whinfield