The Bible says that God commands us to forgive others who have hurt us, but it's not always easy. What if the offender doesn't apologize? What if they're unrepentant and just keep hurting me over and over again?
When you have been hurt, the last thing you may want to hear is that you need to forgive. The pain is intense. You have been betrayed, rejected, lied about, or perhaps even physically, mentally or emotionally harmed.
Have you ever been hurt by someone? I'm going to guess you said yes to this question because we all have been hurt–lots of times. And we are told that we must forgive the person and not harbor bad feelings.
But a lot of times, we get caught in the cycle of wanting to forgive and wanting to hold them accountable for their actions.
When someone hurts us, our natural reaction is to pull back and take care of ourselves. This sort of self-care can range from something as simple as withdrawing and being silent all the way up to a full-blown lashing out, which often involves that untamable tongue.
The wounds we receive at the hands of others can take root within us and cause all sorts of problems. The feelings of injustice and unfairness mess with our mental well-being, physical wellness, and spiritual effectiveness.
And as we allow those feelings to fester, we become consumed with bitterness which can distort our way of thinking and our actions. If we don't deal with it, we are allowing what someone did to us to control how we live our lives.
As we examine these Bible verses about forgiving others who hurt you, remember it's not about letting that person off the hook. It's not about condemning the victim or dismissing the pain.
These verses are meant to lay a foundation for understanding the importance of forgiveness and its effectiveness in letting go of resentment and pain. And it is allowing the joy of the Lord to uproot bitterness and replace it with something greater.
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Bible Verses About Forgiving Others Who Hurt You
Although the Bible has many verses that tell us to let go of our resentment towards others that have hurt us, some have been more than offended. Some people are hurting from ongoing abuse, and it may seem dismissive to hear that forgiveness is necessary in such circumstances.
But Scripture is true no matter how hard it may seem. Our greatest example is Jesus. Living a sinless life, He suffered the consequences of all sin.
He was abused, tortured, forsaken, and abandoned, yet as He hung on the cross, knowing the pain still to come, He showed love and compassion by asking the Heavenly Father to forgive His abusers.
So, what does the Bible say about forgiveness?
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:34 (NIV)
Forgiving those who've hurt you isn't always easy. And it is usually something you really don't actually “want” to do. But here are some very important reasons for offering forgiveness to others despite the situation or circumstance.
Matthew 6:14-15: Forgive Others Who Hurt You Because Your Sins Will Be Forgiven
“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.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
Salvation is not determined by what you do or how you act, so this verse is not talking about the forgiveness of sins by Christ's payment on the cross. Our
However, sin is still a part of our lives. Although sin becomes less controlling due to the presence of the Holy Spirit, none of us, this side of heaven, will stop sinning altogether.
And that sinful nature that continues to hang around affects our relationship with our heavenly Father when we withhold forgiveness from others.
Forgiving those who hurt you is the only way to restore a right relationship with God.
Ephesians 4:30-32: Forgive Others Who Hurt You Because God Commands It
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)
We are given several commands in this verse:
- do not grieve the Holy Spirit
- get rid of sin
- be kind
- be compassionate
- forgive each other
We want forgiveness. We want to be reconciled to God and to be one with Him through Christ. We can’t do that if we harbor unforgiveness. The refusal to forgive is pride. Are we better than Jesus?
That’s what we are saying when we refuse to forgive. He forgave those who betrayed and rejected Him and we must do the same.
God has forgiven us of a debt that is more than we can ever pay. The forgiveness of your sins is the a life-gift gift from the Father. And when we withhold forgiveness from those who hurt us, we are like the ungrateful servant.
We love God's compassion and His loving kindness, but we refuse to share that love and compassion with others.
Our unforgiveness to someone is an insult to God. We are saying that we are more offended than He is. We gratefully accept God's forgiveness but refuse to offer the same grace to others.
Forgiving those who hurt you fulfills the whole law of God.
Colossians 3:12-13: Forgive Others Who Hurt You Because You Are Chosen By God
“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12-13 (NIV)
Being chosen as a child of God comes with the responsibility of acting like a child of God. One area of being like God is offering forgiveness to those who offend us.
God has compassion and shows kindness to all His creation. It's our responsibility to imitate His character by forgiving others with the same godly compassion and kind nature He displays.
Rather than holding a grudge or seeking revenge, we aim to reconcile and restore all relationships with other people.
When you offer true forgiveness to someone, you are embodying the love of God to them.
Ephesians 5:1-2: Forgive Others Who Hurt You Because It Reflects Your Identity As A Child Of God
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)
Forgiveness is one of the clearest identification marks you can bear as a child of God. We can be patient, gentle, loving, and kind, but the rest isn't worth anything if we don't forgive others.
Obedience is what God desires from us. Not sacrifices, not offerings, He wants us to obey His commandments. And it begins with forgiveness. We were forgiven first, and then we build on our relationship afterward.
Forgiveness is offered freely and without condition from the Lord, and He calls us to be imitators of Himself. Christ Jesus gave His life to reconcile humankind back to God.
Forgiving others who hurt you makes you an imitator of God.
Ephesians 4:3: Forgive Others Who Hurt You Because It Fosters Reconciliation And Unity
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)
When the hurt comes from someone in the church, you are called to forgive so the unity of the Spirit is not broken.
Rather than allowing conflicts to persist in the church or with a family member, you can participate in nurturing the unity that comes from the Holy Spirit. Forgive the hurt, mend the broken relationship, and restore the harmony found only because of the grace of God!
Forgiving others who hurt you paves the way for reconciliation and unity within the church, within families, and between close friends.
Romans 12:17: Forgive Others Who Hurt You Because It Breaks the Cycle of Hurt and Retaliation
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” Romans 12:17
Hurt people hurt people. Sometimes people repay hurt for hurt instead of obeying the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). Unforgiveness creates a cycle of vicious behavior.
Forgiveness shows a willingness to rise above the power of darkness and the temptation of seeking vengeance and allows you to express the love, grace, and mercy that Christ exemplified.
Forgiving others who hurt you breaks the vicious cycle of revenge.
Please, dear friends, don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap of the enemy – self-justification, judgment, and bitterness. If these are the seeds you are sowing into your life, you will reap a painful harvest.
The point is, this doesn’t have to happen. We are meant to have life and have it more abundantly; be filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit; and, live in the faith that overcomes the world. This is our heritage, but we must choose it.
Luke 17:3-4: Forgive Others Who Hurt You Because They Seek Reconciliation And Restoration
“So watch yourselves. ‘If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, “I repent,” you must forgive them.'” Luke 17:3-4
We are all imperfect people, but God's business is reconciliation and restoration. John 3:16 tells us that God gave His Son to reconcile us for our sins and to restore us to the intentional relationship our Father desired before the Fall of humankind.
It's His way of showing us His immense love and desire to mend what was broken. God's love offers us a chance to be restored and become a new creation with Him.
Prayer to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You
If you have someone in your life who has hurt you and you're having a hard time forgiving them, try saying this prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father,
My heart is heavy because I'm burdened by the hurt and pain caused by others who have hurt me. I confess that forgiveness does not come easy, and I struggle to let go of my resentment and anger toward this person. But I know Your Word instructs me to forgive as You have forgiven us.
O Lord, I ask for Your grace and strength to extend forgiveness to them. Hear my righteous cry and teach me to see them through Your eyes, recognizing their brokenness and need for Your healing touch.
I surrender my hurt and pain to You, knowing You are the ultimate healer and restorer. No matter how I'm treated or how often I'm offended, Your love and compassion enable me to forgive them.
Help me to lay down my rights and surrender my desire for justice, trusting in Your perfect justice and mercy.
I pray for the person who has hurt me because they, too, are in need of grace. I ask that you soften their heart and lead them to repentance and reconciliation.
Give them an understanding of the pain they have caused and grant them a transformed heart that seeks to make amends.
Please help me to take the first step towards extending them grace, setting healthy boundaries, and walking in wisdom as I navigate this process.
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your unfailing love and forgiveness towards me. Help me to rely on Your Holy Spirit to empower me to forgive others as You have forgiven me.
May Your love flow through me, bringing healing and restoration to both my heart and my relationships. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Forgiving others who hurt us is not just a nice thing to do but a commandment straight from our loving Father. It is one of the most important things (if not the most important) you must do to truly grow closer in your relationship with God.
Even when someone continues to hurt you over and over, God's word reminds us us to continue forgiving them:
When Peter asked, He replied, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV). This verse reminds us that forgiveness knows no limits or boundaries. We are called to extend forgiveness generously, just as God has forgiven us.
When we choose to forgive repeatedly, even when it's difficult, we align ourselves with the heart of Jesus. We reflect His great love and demonstrate the transformative power of forgiveness. When we choose to forgive someone, we are literally offering them them riches of His grace!
By following His example, we can break the chains of bitterness and experience the freedom that comes from extending grace to others.
We are all familiar with the biblical phrase “love thy neighbour” but that means loving them in all circumstances – not just when they are nice.
When the hurt is deep, the healing may take longer. But keep your heart open to learn from God as you go through the process.
Don’t let unforgiveness make you blind and deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Lay it down at the foot of the cross and walk in forgiveness, peace, joy, beauty, love, and the fullness of hope in Christ.
Forgiving those who've hurt you not only honors God, but it gives great power to set you free from the bondage of the pain that was inflicted and allows you to breathe life again.
As we walk in the footsteps of our Savior, let forgiveness be our response, reflecting the boundless love and mercy of our Heavenly Father.