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
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
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.
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.”
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:
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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