Are you looking for bible verses about forgiveness and reconciling? Have you been hurt or betrayed by a loved one and you find it hard to forgive? Do you wonder if God’s forgiveness for you is real? Use these 30 Bible verses on forgiving to learn Biblical teaching on this important topic.
- What is Forgiveness?
- What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?
- What is NOT Included in Forgiveness?
- The Process of Forgiveness
- What Does the Bible Say About Forgiving Yourself?
- A Forgiveness Prayer
- What is the Unforgiveable Sin in the Bible?
- Free Printable 30 Day Forgiveness Bible Reading Plan
What is Forgiveness?
On a basic level, forgiveness is letting go of the hurt, anger, and resentment you have experienced because of the actions of another person.
Yet forgiveness is also much more complex.
It might be easy to forgive a minor betrayals like:
- when someone cuts you off in line.
- a friend says something thoughtless that hurts your feelings.
- a person ignores your request for help.
But what about deeper betrayals such as:
- a spouses’ unfaithfulness.
- stealing from you.
- hurting someone you love.
These are much harder to forgive.
With these deep hurts, forgiveness might seem impossible.
A situation where I’ve struggled to forgive is around our work as foster parents.
Forgiving someone who has committed child abuse is tough, and at times it feels impossible or even somehow wrong to forgive as if forgiving excuses to horrendous behavior.
As I parent adopted children who live every day with the long-term effects of abuse early in life, at times I lack the willingness to forgive. I feel like I’ve forgiven the birth parents of our adopted children, yet when one of my children is struggling, I realize I need to forgive them all over again.
Marriage is another relationship where forgiveness is so deeply needed yet often the hardest. Your spouse is the person who is closer to you than anyone in the world, and so has the power to hurt you the most deeply.
Ruth Graham has been quoted as saying, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” There is great wisdom in recognizing the need for continual forgiveness in every marriage relationship.
Research is now showing that forgiveness (or the lack of it) impacts your health in a significant way. Those who are able to forgive experience improved blood pressure, better sleep, and even less risk of having a heart attack. This shows how God designed us with a true mind-body connection.
You know forgiveness is important – but it’s certainly not easy.
How can you begin to forgive someone who has wronged you? Even more, how can you fully come to accept God’s forgiveness for you?
What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?
As a Christian, you are called to rely on God’s power above your own in order to forgive people who have wronged you. The power to forgive comes from the Holy Spirit at work in your heart.
You might also wonder how God can forgive you when you make the same mistakes many times over. How do you know God has forgiven you?
One important part of the Biblical teaching about forgiveness is that God forgives you totally and completely of your sins because of Jesus’ death on the cross. (John 3:16)
In turn, you are called to forgive others in the same way that God forgave you, letting go of anger and the desire for vengeance. (Matthew 6:14-15)
When you hurt someone else, your responsibility is to ask for forgiveness for the pain you have caused the other person. (Matthew 18:15)
Jesus is our most powerful example of how to forgive others.
- Jesus stopped a woman from being stoned to death and said he did not condemn her (John 8:11).
- Jesus calls us to forgive a person who sins against us, not just one time but 70 x 7 (seventy times seven), or a limitless amount of times. (Matthew 18:22)
- Perhaps most powerful of all, Jesus forgave those who crucified him while he was still hanging on the cross dying. (Luke 23:24)
The Bible has much to teach you about forgiveness.
What is NOT Included in Forgiveness?
You might have conflicted thoughts when you consider forgiving someone who has hurt you, so let’s consider what forgiveness is not.
- Forgiveness is not the same as justice. Justice involves the righting of wrong or accountability is taken for sinful behavior. The person who hurt you may or may not see justice done, but you can choose to forgive regardless.
- Forgiveness does not get the other person off the hook. Nowhere does the Bible say that forgiveness means the person who wronged you gets off scot-free.
- Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Trust is earned, while forgiveness is a conscious choice. You may forgive someone but not yet trust them, or perhaps not ever trust them again.
- Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it takes tremendous strength to offer forgiveness.
- Forgiveness may involve a reconciliation of the relationship, but not always. Your goal should always be to repair and restore the relationship, but there are times this is not possible. (See more here about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.)
- Forgiveness does not mean forgive and forget. The phrase “forgive and forget” is not in the Bible. Psalm 103:12 says that God forgets our sin. What this means is that He does not hold our sin against us, not that God doesn’t remember our sin. One of the attributes of God is that He is all-knowing. We as humans can forgive but we may not be able to forget.
- Forgiveness does not mean enduring abuse. God never desires for his children to be hurt or abused, and forgiveness does not require continuing in any type of abusive situation.
The Process of Forgiveness
When you have been wronged by someone, letting go of resentment, bitterness, and hostility is a process. Depending on the hurt, forgiveness often requires much more than simply saying the words, “I forgive you.”
4 Steps to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You
The forgiveness process involves these steps:
- Understand & accept your negative feelings about the event or person.
- Deciding to forgive.
- Work to understanding the other person.
- Developing empathy and compassion.
If you are holding on to long-time hurt, resentment, or lack of forgiveness, look at where you are in the forgiveness process. What step do you need to take next?
Consider meeting with a pastor, therapist, or trusted Christian mentor if you continue to struggle with forgiving someone.
Meditate on the Bible verses about forgiveness that are listed below. Pray for God’s help to forgive.
What Does the Bible Say About Forgiving Yourself?
Interestingly, nowhere in the Bible does it specifically say you are to forgive yourself. Yet the Bible does have a great deal to say about the way God forgives you and His incredible love for you.
Jeremiah 31:34 tells us that God remembers your sin no more, and Psalm 103:12 says that, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
Holding on to unnecessary guilt, shame, and ongoing remorse is not God’s will for your life.
Guilt serves an important purpose because it brings us to repentance. But after you have repented and been forgiven, continuing to hold on to guilt does no good. In fact, this creates shame which can push you further away from God and the work He wants to do in your life.
A Forgiveness Prayer
Use this forgiveness prayer to ask God’s forgiveness for your sins, and also to pray for the strength to forgive those who have hurt you.
I ask for your forgiveness for the sins I have committed, both known and unknown. I know I am not worthy yet you forgive me because of the work of your son Jesus on the cross who paid the price for me.
I thank you for this incredible gift.
Father, in the same way that you have forgiven me, so I am called to forgive others. It’s tough to let go of the pain and resentment I feel from being wronged, but I ask that the Holy Spirit work in my heart. Not my will, but yours be done.
I let go of any need for retribution, revenge, gossip or slander against the person who has done wrong to me.
I choose to forgive in Jesus’ name.
With the peace that comes from Christ ruling in my heart, help me live a life of peace. Give me the strength to live in harmony with all people in my life.
In Jesus’ name, I pray.
What is the Unforgiveable Sin in the Bible?
In Mark 3:28-29, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”
The only unpardonable sin is speaking against the Holy Spirit, or rejection of God. In other words, the only sin God does not forgive us continued, deliberate unbelief. This separates us from God and His work in our lives.
Free Printable 30 Day Forgiveness Bible Reading Plan
Download this free printable with Bible verses on the importance of forgiveness.
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