Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You
There are 5 reasons why you need to forgive those who hurt you. Not an easy task, right? If you are like me, forgiveness doesn’t come naturally. It takes work.
Personally, I used to like to think about offenses done to me about a thousand times and wallow in the past until I am drowning.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know this particular coping mechanism was wrong. I thought since it was happening in my thoughts, I was good because it was contained. No one was getting hurt or so I thought…
It wasn’t until I got sick (really sick) that I realized replaying a scene over and over in my head was another form of unforgiveness. And it was hurting me, my family, and those who came into contact with me.
In this post, I am going to give you five reasons why you should forgive, and then show you how to forgive and let go of the past.
Related: Self Pity: 4 Ways to Keep Wallowing
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5 Reasons Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You
You may wonder why we forgive those who hurt us. There are several reasons, and they are good ones. Here are the following reasons:
1. Forgiveness is required by God
God requires us to forgive those who wrong us. Unforgiveness is a sin, plain and simple. I always found this commandment to be pretty straight forward.
What I didn’t realize is forgiveness is not just an outward act, but it includes all internal feelings too.
This is where I stumbled…my thought-life. I continued to obsess on my pain and lived as a hurt person. My hurts were like a blanket. Think Linus. It was a part of me; I couldn’t let it go.
God convicted me of my internal sin a few years ago. I wasn’t fooling anyone.
He showed me I needed to forgive internally as well as externally.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22 | NIV).
2. God won’t forgive us.
God won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others. This seems harsh, but if you want to be forgiven by God, then forgive others no matter how bad the offense.
Unfortunately, there are no exceptions written in the Bible. God knows it may take a while to forgive some things, but if you keep working on it, one day it will be put behind you.
3. Forgiveness is for Yourself
Forgiveness is for yourself. In Matthew 18:23-35, it talks about the wicked servant being turned over to the torturers because he wouldn’t forgive. I can relate to this all too well.
I lived with unforgiveness for so long that I became blind to its presence. It was just a part of my being. It colored my actions and altered my behavior.
Eventually, the pain became so great it starting affecting my health. It poisoned me. I was tortured. My sickness (Crohn’s disease) became a living hell.
Sadly, I could not get control of it because I was constantly angry.
It wasn’t until I started forgiving those who hurt me that I started to heal not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.
Beth Moore says, Forgiveness doesn’t make the situation OK, it makes you OK.
Related: How to Deal with Your Family Rift
4. Forgiveness Releases Others
When you forgive those who hurt you, it releases the other person to God. It means you trust Him to mete out justice in His way and in His time.
There is a court of law for crimes committed, but in the end, you still need to release it to your Heavenly Father.
Your offender may be off the hook with you, but he is not off the hook with God.
Romans 12:19 ” Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
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How to Forgive Those Who Hurt You
You may wonder how to forgive those who hurt you. It is not easy, but it can be done if you work at it. Practicing forgiveness daily is a struggle even for the strongest of Christians. Here are some suggestions:
Confess your unforgiveness to God, and ask for His forgiveness.
Everything in your sin nature wants to rebel, hate, and hold onto grudges. You will need the Holy Spirit to help you do something so unnatural.
Choose to stop thinking about the offense. I have a picture of an actual stop sign in my head when I notice the “bad tape” playing reruns.
If I still can’t stop it, I play songs about God. I love Hillsong Worship/United. It gets my mind off of me and on to Him.
Talk to a counselor, pastor, or godly friend who can help you process your anger and bitterness if you are stuck. It is much easier to release the pain once you have unscrambled all the feelings.
You can also talk to an empty chair or write a letter to the person. This will help you get all your anger out. Tear up the letter once you are done.
Renew your thinking. Start telling yourself the truth. God’s word is true. You can always count on this one thing. Make notecards or memorize verses that reinforce who you are in Christ.
You may not believe the scriptures at first. Just keep saying them every day. One day it will start to click and become truth. Your goal is to start a new “tape” in your head to replace the old one.
Philippians 4: 8 tells us what we should be thinking about in our minds. It says to think on things that are true, noble, pure, just, and good.
Release it. Let go of your past. It is gone. You can never get back what you lost. No matter what you do to get even, it will never be enough. Even jail or the death penalty will not make the pain go away.
Visualize yourself laying all the pain down at the cross, and then running to Jesus as a child runs to his daddy. See yourself in His arms holding you, maybe even cradling you if you are really wounded.
If you will open your heart, God will pour His love all over you and make you better instead of bitter.
Pray for your offender. I know. I can hear you hollering from here. It is amazing what happens when you start praying for the person who has hurt you.
This one act will help you to forgive easier.
Pray for God to bless the person and his family. Ask God to help you love this person even if he seems unlovable.
While you are at it…pray for God to convict you of any wrongdoings. You may actually be at fault too.
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How to Let Go of the Past
How do you let go of the past? You choose to do it. Forgiveness is a choice.
It is that simple. But it is the hardest thing to do. Every time a horrible hurt comes to mind, no matter how bad the situation, you make a conscious effort to let it go.
More importantly, you let go of every word and action others have done to you, and decide to move forward with a clean slate. This doesn’t mean you go back to abusive behavior, live in denial, or erase your mind of the offense somehow.
It is that you choose not to remember. This is what God does with us (Jer 31:34). He knows what we have done, yet he chooses not to remember our sin anymore when we ask for forgiveness.
You may think your offender does not deserve this gift, but, truthfully, you don’t deserve the same gift either.
Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Here is a forgiveness checklist. Ask yourself these questions. If you say “yes” to any of them then keep working.
- Do you feel angry every time you think of _______?
- Do you have a secret desire for _______ to pay for his offense?
- Can you pray for ________ without resentment?
- Do you tell everyone how _______ hurt you?
- Do you talk negatively about ________ when his/her name comes up?
It takes time to forgive those who have wronged you. It is not a “one-and-done” kind of thing. Forgiveness is a process. Sometimes a long process. But it is worth it.
Modeling Forgiveness with You Kids
It is important to model forgiveness with your kids.
If you see your kids are unforgiving, chances are they learned it from you or their father. You may never have said anything, but your actions showed them all they needed to know.
You may need to do some reteaching. If your kids are little, get some books on forgiveness. Start reading and talking about it with them in a non-confrontational way.
If your kids are older, start talking about why we should forgive those who hurt us. You can bring up your failures, and how God convicted you to change. You can tell them what you are doing to fix it.
Failures are a great teaching tool! Don’t let your pride keep you from talking openly.
I hope you will choose to forgive those who hurt you and let go of the past. It will set you and your family free.
How do you forgive others for wrongs done to you?
Book on Family Estrangement From a Christian Point of View
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