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forgive those who hurt you

5 Burning Reasons Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

There are five burning reasons why you need to forgive those who hurt you. Notice I used the word “burning.” Personally, I used to think about offenses done to me about a thousand times and wallow in the past until I was burning with anger.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know this particular coping mechanism was wrong. I thought since it was happening in my thought life, I was good because it was contained. No one was getting hurt.

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. I put myself in my own hell. The unforgiveness started burning me.

Check out these five reasons why God says to forgive no matter what has happened. Additionally, learn how to do it successfully. It may seem impossible right now to let go, but with God all things are possible.

RELATED: Check out my testimony about forgiving family hurts on the Crazy Cool Family Podcast

What Does God Say About Forgiving Those Who Hurt You?

Here are five reasons why God says to forgive those who hurt you. In fact, these reasons aren’t just random ideas, they are biblical. God knows what is best for us. Check out what the Bible says about forgiving someone who keeps hurting you.

1. Forgiveness is required by God

God requires us to forgive those who hurt you. Unforgiveness is a sin, plain and simple. I always found this commandment to be pretty straightforward.

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. I had to learn how to forgive someone who broke my heart.

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. For me, it was a process. I had to keep forgiving until I no longer hold a grudge.

“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

RELATED: Healthy Family Relationships: Breaking Toxic Relationship Cycles

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 those who hurt you 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.

Don’t rely on your feelings to help you forgive. Many times, feelings come way later. Forgiving is simply a choice.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 NIV

RELATED: How to Trust God in Difficult Times: Understanding Why Bad Things Happen

3. Forgiveness is for yourself

Forgiveness is for yourself.  When you don’t forgive those who hurt you, you become tormented.  Matthew 18:23-35, 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 healed not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

RELATED: How to Deal with Difficult Family Members: Real Tips That Work

4. Forgiveness releases others

When you choose to 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. Check out this verse on forgiving those who have wronged you. God won’t forget. I guarantee it.

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.”

RELATED: When Family Members Stop Speaking: 3 Things You Lose

5. Forgiveness allows you to move forward

When you don’t forgive those who hurt you, you stay stuck in the past mulling the situation over and over again in your mind. All of that self-pity keeps you from moving forward with your life. It takes life-giving energy away from things that could be more productive.

For instance, once I stopped thinking about my situation and forgave, I started sleeping better, creative ideas came to me, and I put my energy toward ministry. This wouldn’t have happened if I stayed stuck in the past.

When you choose to forgive those who hurt you take away the power of your offender. They no longer control your actions, take up energy, or space in your brain.

Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

How Do You Forgive Those That Have 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:

1. Confess

Confess the sin of unforgiveness to God. This may take time. Don’t rush it.

Everything in your sinful nature wants to rebel, hate, and hold onto grudges. You will need the Holy Spirit to help you do something unnatural to your DNA.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

2. Stop

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. Some people get stuck in this phase because it feels good to wallow.

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.

RELATED: How to Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself: 5 Ways to Move On

3. Talk

Talk to a counselor, pastor, or godly friend who can help you process your anger and bitterness if you can’t forget those who hurt you. It is much easier to release the pain once you have unscrambled all the feelings.

Many people don’t know how to forgive someone who isn’t sorry. When this is the case, talk to an empty chair, write a letter to the person, or even journal. This will help you get all your anger out. Tear up the letter once you are done. 

family estrangement

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3. Renew

Renew your thinking. Start telling yourself the truth that you can forgive. 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 about things that are true, noble, pure, just, and good.

RELATED: How to Stop Negative Self-Talk: 6 Tips to Break the Habit Today

4. Release

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.

RELATED: How to Stop Living in Fear: 7 Ways to Overcome a Fear-Based Life

5. Pray

Use prayer to forgive those who hurt you.  If you are having a hard time praying, pray for God to give you the desire to pray for your offender.  Hint: Pray whether you feel like it or not. 

This one act will help you to forgive easier.

Make a prayer to forgive others that you can use over and over again. Ask for God to bless the person and his family, and 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. 

RELATED: War Room Prayer Strategy: 7 Tips to Pray Powerful Prayers

Why Should I Forgive Those Who Hurt Me?

You may wonder why you should choose to forgive those who hurt you. It is not so much for the other person but for you. Not forgiving causes further break in your relationship, needless churning, and even sickness.

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. Let it go. It’s just not worth it.

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.”

Forgiveness Checklist

Here is a forgiveness checklist. Ask yourself these questions. If you say “yes” to any of them then keep working.

  1. Do you feel angry every time you think of _______?
  2. Do you have a secret desire for _______  to pay for his offense?
  3. Can you pray for ________ without resentment?
  4. Do you tell everyone how _______ hurt you?
  5. 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.

Is It Ok to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You?

Forgiving doesn’t make the situation okay, it just makes you okay.  No one is saying that what happened to you wasn’t horrible or wrong. In fact, it’s just the opposite.  The person who hurt you may not be safe. You may have to love from afar.

Don’t confuse forgiveness for reconciliation. They are two very different things. Forgiveness focuses on the offense while reconciliation focuses on the relationship. Forgiveness is something you chose to do despite your feelings; it is extended, not earned.

On the other hand, reconciliation takes two people who are committed to working on the relationship. It is a slow process of trust that is gained over time.

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Modeling Forgiveness With Your Kids

It is important to model forgiveness with your kids and learn to forgive those who hurt you.

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. When you 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 those who hurt you?

family estrangement

Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or have a family estrangement? Do you feel shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family but also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

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Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

Join the group Christian Family Living on Facebook

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to freely talk about parenting, marriage, faith, family, and culture. Being a Christian is hard! Let’s do it together. Most of all, a sense of humor is required. Got memes? Bring it on!

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There are tips on building a Christian home, parenting, marriage, family issues, and faith. Learn how to get back to the things that matter most in your life and the life of your family. It’s time for a revival!

32 thoughts on “5 Burning Reasons Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You”


    1. Valerie, it sounds like you are really hurting. I am so sorry. I know your heart is broken. I totally get it. I would encourage you to read my book. It may help you understand what is going on in your family. While every estrangement is different, there are some things that are the same. Addictions, control, threats, money, narcissism, abuse, and life choices can play a huge part in families. Another book called When to Walk Away by Gary Thomas may help you too. Estrangement isn’t that simple. There are times when things get so toxic that it is impossible to stay in the relationship without sinning. Hopefully, your relationship will get healed with some counseling, prayer, and deep forgiveness. In the meantime, I pray God gives you the grace to wait until something changes. I would encourage you to work on yourself. It is the only thing you have the power to change. Take a good look at how you can own your part.

  2. I so love your candor in sharing. Yes, there are so many deep wounds we carry from our family relationships. I so relate because up until recently, even though I thought I was okay, I had to rise up and confront the issues. Family dynamics are an interesting thing, not so great when you are at the receiving end of dishonour and disrespect; treated like you don’t matter, others are more important or more special than you are. Who God says I am did not line up with these lies, so I had face it and deal with it. It is still a work in progress but I am so grateful that I got real with God about it. Thank you for sharing

    1. Yaa, I am so glad you stopped telling yourself lies. This is something I am really working on. Satan is the accuser, and we fall for it hook, line, and sinker. He’s been using these same tricks since Eve, and we haven’t caught on! You do matter. God loves you. Stand on that. Thanks for your comment. Prayers for you.

    1. Erin, yes, I keep going back to forgiveness every day. It is the only way to live a full life. I also don’t put myself in the crosshairs of those who do not respect my boundaries. Thanks for your comment.

  3. What a good word. That part where you have to forgive internally as well as externally…were you reading my spiritual mail ? Ha ha! This reminds me it’s time for some self examination.

    1. Faith, what a wonderful name! Yes, forgiveness is internal as well as external. It is really about the heart. And God knows, doesn’t He? I thought I was fooling Him. Not so much! Thanks for your comment.

  4. This is so good Julie. I also coped with it by keeping it to myself in my thoughts and my heart, thinking it wasn’t hurting anyone. But harboring unforgiveness made me bitter and those closest to me were always affected in one way or another. Forgiveness was for me more than for the other person. Thank you so much for your beautiful post! ❤

    1. Donna, I am so glad you have been able to release the anger and hurt. Wallowing in the pain does feel good, but eventually, it comes back to bite us. I don’t think we realize how many people it affects when we harbor unforgiveness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. It’s easy to think that once you decide to forgive that nothing else needs to be done. In some cases we must learn to forgive the same offense each day. Forgiveness is a process that really requires God help.

  6. You are so right, forgiveness truly is for ourselves! My cute grandma always says, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This is a beautiful and timely reminder for me.

  7. What’s interesting is that a lot of these tips also apply to forgiving ourselves. I especially like the tip to picture an actual stop sign instead of continuing down the rabbit hole!

    1. Colleen, I think we can be very hard on ourselves when we mess up. I went from taking all the blame to not taking any blame. I think we have to own our stuff and then forgive everyone, including ourselves.

  8. You make some great points about forgiveness! I always find that when I don’t want to pray about a person or issue, it’s because I know I’m holding a grudge and need to forgive. Praying about it always makes it that much clearer (which is probably why I don’t want to do it haha).

    1. I know. It is hard to pray for someone who has hurt you. That is always the litmus test for me. If I can’t pray, then I know I need to do more forgiving. It isn’t easy forgiving and letting go of the past but it is worth it. Thanks for reading.

  9. Thanks for this great reminder about forgiveness. I often find myself saying I have forgiven someone but still holding that grudge, which doesn’t feel good. Letting go and actually forgiving someone feels so freeing!

    1. Ashley, holding a grudge actually takes a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is much more freeing to let go of the past and forgive those who have hurt you. I am glad you are watching yourself to make sure you keep working until the forgiveness is in full.

  10. Your post is such a great reminder of why we need to forgive those who have hurt us! I, too, used to have a really difficult time forgiving others, especially in replaying the bad tapes in my mind and holding anger over and over again against them. There were several periods of time in my life where I held unforgiveness for several years, and I then I wondered why I wasn’t really growing in my faith. When I finally let go of that anger and bitterness and forgave, as God had commanded me, in many cases the broken relationship was better than before the hurt ever occurred!

    1. That is a really neat testimony. I hate those bad tapes. I am sorry you have them too. They are just garbage. It is amazing how something so quiet like bitterness and anger can get out of control. It is important to forgive those who have hurt us for our own benefit. We can let go of the past and move on even if we don’t go back to a destructive relationship.

  11. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of forgiveness. And I liked that you mentioned teaching our children how to forgive as well. Such an important healthy thing to learn. ❤️

    1. Jenna, oh my goodness. It is amazing what our kids pick up from us. It is hard when you see a reflection of yourself walking around every day. You hope it is good, but those little things like unforgiveness can slip in and eat at the soul…of everyone. Thank goodness we can forgive those who have hurt us and let go of the past.

  12. I once heard that bitterness is like a poison you drink hoping your enemies will get sick. (Or something like that.) It is so true that it can have real impact on your physical and mental health. Thank you for this post!

    1. Ha ha! Yes, I know. That saying is in this post. Unforgiveness is like poison. It only hurts us when we hold on to the past and don’t forgive those who have hurt us. I am glad God gives us second, third, and fourth chances to forgive others so we don’t poison ourselves.

    1. Shubhanjalee, it is important to forgive those who have hurt us and let go of the past. When we don’t, we hurt ourselves. The other person doesn’t even know when we wallow in pain most of the time. They can’t possibly fix all the pain either. We have to release the person and move on. “I’m sorry” is a nice bonus though.

  13. Such a good reminder to forgive because God forgives us. Prayer is usually the last thing I want to do when someone has offended me but I know it can help release me from carrying the weight of the hurt. God is so good in that way.

    1. So true. Our sin is much greater than anything we have done here on earth. Jesus forgave us, so we must forgive others. Not doing this goes against everything the Bible says. Forgiveness is for us. It helps us to move on with our lives and live freely. Thank the Lord we can forgive others and let go of the past.

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