Powerful Truth to Know When You Need to Forgive

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Almost everyone has a double standard when it comes to forgiveness.

If you and I are being honest, we’d admit we want to be forgiven but often find it hard to forgive.

And that’s especially true, when the offense has been life-changing or the offender continues to do things that cause us pain.

Even though the Bible says we need to forgive each other, sometimes it's hard when the pain and consequences overwhelm us. This truth will help... #Forgive #Faith #Bible #Hope #Healing #CountingMyBlessings

But then there’s this…

Jesus said:

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14–15

Verses like this one and the “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” part of the Lord’s Prayer make us squirm.

You and I want God’s forgiveness. Really, we need His forgiveness.

But the truth is … sometimes the pain cuts so deep and the consequences so lasting that forgiving seems impossible and it feels like we’re excusing the wrong and denying the pain.

But I wonder if we’re looking at forgiveness the wrong way.

Henry Ward Beecher once said…

“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.”

And although I agree that part of forgiveness is no longer holding the person’s offense against them like a debt that must be paid later.

Sometimes an offense is like having your arm cut off and then being told not to think about it again.

The Bible does not tell us to forgive and forget. It tells us to forgive like we’ve been forgiven.

Forgiving someone does not deny the offense nor does it excuse the offender.

Forgiving is choosing to love others like God loves us and to forgive them because God has forgiven us.

Even as I type those words, believe me, I know it’s not easy!

In fact, the truths I want to share with you are the result of a very personal struggle I had with forgiveness. Choices made by others turned our lives upside down, caused overwhelming heartache, and left scars I knew would never disappear.

So yes, I understand that it can seem impossible to forgive at times.

But Jesus’ words about the connection between forgiving and being forgiven challenge my heart and I just can’t imagine willingly blocking God’s forgiveness in my life.

I know how much I need God’s forgiveness. I know how often He has washed me clean and given me a fresh start. And I know that no matter how hard I try, I fall short of His perfect will and need His forgiveness again and again.

I’ve made a list of truths that help me when I need to forgive and I pray they will help you, too.

Powerful Truth to Know When You Need to Forgive

Even though the Bible says we need to forgive each other, sometimes it's hard when the pain and consequences overwhelm us. This truth will help... #Forgive #Faith #Bible #Hope #Healing #CountingMyBlessings

1. Forgiving someone does not erase, excuse, or deny what happened.  

Forgiving extends mercy to the person who did the wrong and gives peace to the person who was wronged.

Forgiveness doesn’t change the past. but it does, by God’s grace, give us peace, strength, and the courage to move into the future free of anger, bitterness, and resentment.

Forgiveness makes it possible for you and me to live with joy once agai

Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Colossians 3:12–13

2. You don’t have to tell the person that you have forgiven them unless they ask.  

The person who hurt you may not believe they’ve done anything that needs to be forgiven. They may believe their words or actions were justified.  And it’s possible that you could make the problem worse or cause yourself more pain by going to them and telling them you forgive them if they haven’t asked.

If you do believe you need to voice unsolicited forgiveness make sure you’re not motivated by anger or a desire to hurt or manipulate them to get even.

Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”


3. Anger, hatred, bitterness, and resentment will only prolong your pain and prevent you from healing.

I hate when a perfectly wonderful day gets interrupted by a heart-piercing memory. It doesn’t take much . . . a familiar smell, a song, a picture, a comment and suddenly I can be reliving an awfu moment.

Although I can’t control my thoughts and memories, I can control what I do with them and how long I allow them to live in my head and influence my emotions.

I’ve learned it’s important for me to change painful thoughts and memories quickly. So, I keep a list of mental distractions … music I love, quotes and verses that inspire me, or just going outside and taking a walk.

And the best way to deal with difficult memories … lay them at the foot of the cross in prayer … every. single. time.

“Victory over our hurts and pain is not found by delving deeper into our wounds, but by clinging to the wounds of Jesus.” 

Louie Giglio

4. God will give you the strength you need to forgive if you ask Him.

Honestly talking to God about my feelings and asking Him for strength has been the only way I’ve been able to forgive when I don’t want to.

I imagine you’ve had times, like me, when you’re sure the person who hurt you doesn’t deserve forgiveness. They’re not sorry. They don’t care. They’re lives look good and you’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning.


Thank God for the many times He has forgiven you, tell Him you want to obey His command to forgive like you’ve been forgiven, and ask Him for the strength you need to forgive the person who hurt you.

Lord, teach me what You want me to do, and I will live by Your truth. Teach me to respect You completely.

Psalm 86:11


The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory.

Psalm 118:14
Even though the Bible says we need to forgive each other, sometimes it's hard when the pain and consequences overwhelm us. This truth will help... #Forgive #Faith #Bible #Hope #Healing #CountingMyBlessings

5. Choose forgiveness – sit in a room by yourself and speak out loud or write words of forgiveness. 

You know it’s what God wants you to do.

You know you’re tired of holding on to anger, bitterness, and pain.

Now it’s time to take your anger, hurt, frustration, and all the other junk in your head and let it go.

It’s time to actually … forgive.

If you need help … you can use the following:

I have held on to this anger, hurt, and resentment for too long. And because I am completely loved, accepted, and forgiven by God in Christ Jesus, I am able to forgive you, ______________. I choose to forgive you for ______________, and I release you completely. You don’t owe me. I will no longer hold this against you. You are free. I am free.

If you choose to write your forgiveness, I recommend burning or shredding it after you’re finished as a symbol of the forgiveness you’ve given and freedom you’ve received.

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ~Corrie ten Boom

Before you go … I’d love to invite you to watch the following video. Mary Johnson has a lot to teach us all about the power of forgiveness…

And give you one last quote to think about…

The person who has the most power over your life is the person you have not forgiven.

Dallas Willard

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to give the people who hurt me that much power. I want to be free to live and love … forgiven and forgiving!

What truths do you turn to when you need to forgive someone?

What is the best thing you discovered after forgiving someone when you didn’t want to?

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  1. The grace we covet for ourselves is the very same grace we need to extend.
    Oddly, we are quick to explain how hard meaningful change is for us to accomplish, while all the time forgetting that others also struggle and may need our forgiveness 70 times 7 times!

  2. Yes, we can fully forgive when we allow God to do His work in us. Thank you for these wonderful reminders! Monday blessings to you, friend. 🙂

  3. This is a powerful post, Deb. Every one of us needs forgiveness, and every one of us needs to forgive. I’m glad you started with that first point because too much teaching on forgiveness does not allow us to acknowledge the depth of the hurt or the reality of the consequences of whatever happened. When we understand that we don’t have to pretend nothing happened, we’re more likely to even consider forgiving the offender.

  4. Thank you, Deb, for this exceptional reminder about the importance of forgiveness in our lives, each and every day. I recall one time when I was hurt so badly, it was tough to forgive the offender at first, but once I did (with God’s help, of course), oh, the peace that washed over me! Just that one experience helps me today to forgive others quickly.
    Blessings, my friend!

  5. What a wise and wonderful post, Deb!
    I love how we can get free all alone with Jesus!

  6. Forgiveness frees us and that is why I choose to forgive. I love your point #1 , I think once we realize that truth , we will be filled with peace.

    Love you friend

  7. Wow Deb. Great word! That quote from Dallas Willard was BAM!

  8. Such a wise and practical post, Deb. Tweeting and pinning. Thank you for encouraging me today!

  9. Thank you for this empowering message! This really resonated with me! I greatly value your inclusion of scripture as well as great quotes. I realize that referenced writing such as this takes a great deal of work! Thank you for being such a stalwart laborer for the Lord Jesus!

  10. I can tell you’ve gone through something where you’ve been hurt, because I saw myself in all those 5 items you listed. I remember slowly learning those things over 9 years (after my daughter was injured at birth), and then even more after her death (as a result of her injuries at birth) and then again when the doctor I blamed passed away himself. What I finally learned that set me free was that I didn’t love my daughter any less if I forgave him. He was the type of person who wouldn’t admit he did anything wrong, and actually went out of his way to be rude to us, so it was very hard to forgive. But I remembered, he doesn’t deserve forgiveness any more than I do. Forgiveness is an undeserved gift. One we have received from God through Jesus, and one we are called to pass on. Sometimes it’s harder than other times, but it’s never easy.

    1. Jo Lynn, I am so sorry for your suffering. I can’t imagine how painful that must have been. I am blessed by your words, “Forgiveness is an undeserved gift. One we have received from God through Jesus, and one we are called to pass on.” It’s really that simple, isn’t it?! Hard to do in the midst of pain but easier when we turn our focus back to our gracious loving Father. Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your story. God bless you!

  11. Aryn, TheLibraryan says:

    Sometimes the concept is easy, like with little things. Its the bigger more painful offenses where we all of a sudden don’t understand how to forgive.
    Saying “I choose not to hold this as an excuse to hurt you or to grow bitter myself” seems more manageable when you need to forgive something big.
    It means the same thing, but in simpler terms, with less of a stumbling block.
    Thanks for this!

  12. Deb
    Thank you for your words. I have more of a question rather than a reply. What do u do when someone is hurting you by stealing? I can with the lords help forgive but doesn’t something have to be said to the one who’s stealing? I hate confrontation and working really hard to come out of my shell. I don’t know how to approach this. Please help me to choose the right words to confront this person. I’m not questioning this I know 100% because I lent him money thru my online checking and it has his name posted to the withdrawal. Thank you so much in advance for any help u can give me. Sandy

    1. That is a tough question, Sandy! I don’t think forgiving someone means excusing what someone has done. If you have evidence of the theft, you may want to turn them in to the authorities. There is still a place for you to forgive them … without revenge or recompense. You may never get back what was taken and that is a big part of forgiveness. But you don’t have to leave yourself open to further loss. If you want to talk to them first, before calling the authorities, I think I would just show them the evidence you have of the withdrawal. I’m not sure how much that helped … in all honesty, I’m not very good with confrontation either. God bless you!

  13. Jo Ann Mills says:

    God showed me this powerful site. Thank so much for sharing. I prayed and forgave the person. I would love to continue reading and recieving your blogs.

    1. I’m so glad it blessed you, Jo Ann! Thank you so much for visiting and for leaving such kind encouragement. God bless you!

  14. I don’t feel resentful or bitter so much as I feel I’m mourning the loss of my daughter. She isn’t dead, but our relationship will never be the same. In seeking the attention of her estranged father, she completely betrayed my trust. My life was turned upside down when I moved an hour and a half away from my home for her. After insisting we all move and months of planning, it was for nothing but a lie- she chose instead to stay behind with him. At first, I told her I didn’t want her feeling guilty because I wanted to forgive everything and she asked “Why would she feel guilty?” I honestly didn’t know what to do with that. So, I pretended everything was fine. It has been 7 years since I was tricked into moving to a place I hate and I still cry when I think of losing her and all that happened as a result. It breaks my heart. I’ll be praying for the strength to forgive. Thank you for this post.

    1. I am so sorry! We love our children so much and it’s truly painful when that love is rejected. We’ve been there and it’s an overwhelming pain. I pray that God will give you His strength, peace, and everything you need. God bless you!

  15. Jill Hyatt Cook says:

    Hi Sister Deborah Wolf
    I have read a lot of your information on forgiveness, I came Across this post, I absolutely love your work.
    I appreciate what God is doing in your life and how you are a gift to the body of Christ and to the world. We appreciate the source and tools God has blessed you to share with so many.
    My name is Jill Hyatt Cook and I am a Pastor that has been called by God to operate the Joy of Forgiving wellness center located in the beautiful city of San Carlos California.
    I would love to connect with you and to share with you what God is doing in the lives of his people. Through the wellness center we are blessed to help others and lead them to experience the Joy of Forgiving. over here in California. with the ministry of Forgiving… which is called the Joy of Forgiving,if you have any time to connect, I would love to connect by way of partnership /mentor ship whatever the Lord says Also I have a book scheduled to come out at the end of May beginning of June keep us in prayer with that endeavor thanksGod bless you I look forward to hearing from you

    1. Thanks for visiting and for stopping to say hello, Jill. I’m lifting you up in prayer . . . asking God to bless your important ministry of forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Blessings!