What the Bible Says About Forgiveness | How to Forgive When You’ve Been Hurt

We have all been in a position where we have been hurt by our friends, spouses, family members, or co-workers. We often tend to hold on too long when offended and fail to forgive those who have wronged us. However, that is not what the Bible teaches us to do. Here is what the Bible says about forgiveness.

What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?

When someone asks you for forgiveness, it isn’t always easy to give it. However, forgiveness is powerful, whether you give or receive it. 

Do you wonder how to forgive when you feel hurt? There is plenty of guidance in the Bible about forgiveness. So what does the Bible say about it? Here are some Bible verses to meditate on as you move forward on your path toward forgiving others.

  • “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.”—Proverbs 17:9
  • “God is always lenient even though we have sinned against Him.”—Daniel 9:9
  • “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”—Psalms 130:3-4
  • “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”—Colossians 1:13-14
  • “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”—Ephesians 4:32

What Forgiveness Is Not

Forgiveness can be many things, but you should remember what it is not.

Forgiveness Does Not Mean Forgetting

You'll hear the common saying “forgive and forget.” However, when you forgive someone, it does not mean that you forget what they have done. It also doesn't mean that you should pretend the person didn’t hurt you in the past. When you forgive, you release the hurtful feelings, but it doesn't erase the memory.

Forgiveness Does Not Mean You Trust the Person

If you forgive someone, it does not mean that you can or should trust them. Trust takes time to build. Even though it's possible to rebuild trust, both parties must be on board. It's a choice to trust the person who has caused you harm. Having boundaries and waiting to see the fruit of how that person is living is often the wise step to take. 

Forgiveness is Not Condoning the Offense

You may hesitate to forgive the offender, thinking the wrongdoer will get away with their offense. However, that is not the case. Forgiveness releases the bitterness in your heart. Allow God to work on the offender's heart just as He works on yours. 

Forgiveness Does Not Mean Pretending You Were Hurt

It is normal to feel hurt when you forgive someone who betrayed you. However, you should not pretend like you were not hurt once you forgive the person. You don’t have to pretend as if nothing happened. Instead, focus on the redemption (personally and possibly relationally) made possible through Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and the offender’s life. 

How Forgiveness Sets You Free

Two people holding hands in comfort - improving relationships through forgiveness.

There are many ways forgiveness can make you feel better…

  • It Helps You to Heal

Holding on to bitterness will prevent you from having peace. Your emotional wounds will not heal when you don't forgive others. When you forgive, you decide to let go of the negative emotions. By forgiving, you will be making steps toward healing.

  • It Improves Relationships

Keeping the anger towards the person who has hurt you will affect your relationship with them. Grudges make it hard to trust again and difficult to build new relationships. Offering compassion increases feelings of connection with other people.

  • It Has Health Benefits

Unknown to many, forgiveness is good for your health. When you forgive, you'll reduce stress. Reduced stress has health benefits, including improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and lower blood pressure.

  • You Get Forgiveness from God

The Bible says if you don't forgive your fellow man, it hinders your relationship with God. When you decide to forgive, you will experience God's grace and mercy in new ways.

  • Freedom

Unforgiveness is a burden that will wear you down. As long as you hold the anger and bitterness, the burden grows. In the end, you'll be hurt. When you forgive, you become free.

Click here to get the SCARS Series Bible Study

How to Forgive When You've Been Hurt

Forgiving the person can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible with Christ. You may think the person does not deserve your forgiveness, or you don't know how to go about forgiving that person.

Unforgiveness is bad for the soul and can lead to frustration, anger, or fear. However, when you forgive someone, you'll feel like a burden has been lifted off you. 

Ready! Here are steps on how to forgive when you've been hurt.

Decide to Forgive

The first step is the decision to forgive the person who has hurt you. You may wake up and feel all the anger is gone, or you are no longer hurt about what happened. And on the other hand, you may not. Forgiveness isn’t about a feeling; it is a choice. You'll be on the road to recovery when you decide to forgive.

Trust God’s Timing

God can use time to heal wounds. During that time (after you’ve decided to forgive), keep praying and handing the feelings over to God. Pray for the other person. Pray for restoration and redemption in their lives and yours. God is the author of time, and He will use it to bring about healing when we partner with Him in the process.

Remember Colossians 3:12

“… put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering”–Colossians 3:12

Walking in the choice of forgiveness takes practice. The author of Colossians tells us to “put on” the right stuff. With the choice to forgive comes the choice to be tender, kind, humble, and enduring. The enemy won’t want you to walk in these things because he knows when you do, you will experience the freedom from the hurt you’ve been longing for.  This is all the more reason to remember and practice Colossians 3:12.

Remember You’ve Been Forgiven

The author of Colossians gives us the standard of forgiveness.

Colossians 3:13-14 says, “… if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

When it is difficult to release someone of their offense, ask God to remind you of how He released you from yours. Jesus calls us to forgive totally, immediately, and unilaterally.Look into your heart and ask God to help you forgive the person who hurt you.