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.
But then there’s this…
“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
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
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
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
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.”Anonymous
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
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
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
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?
Thank you so much for joining me today.
And a thank you to BibleGateway.com for sources.
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