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Do you want to supercharge your life? Then forgive those who hurt you (even if they don’t deserve it or aren’t the least bit sorry).

I know this seems unfair, but forgiveness is for you. Holding onto offenses may feel good at the time, but in reality, you are drinking poison when you wallow and ruminate.

Sadly, I used to think about offenses done to me about a thousand times and live in self-pity. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this particular coping mechanism was destructive. Since it happened in my thought life, I thought I was good because it was contained.

No one was getting hurt. (Haha)

It wasn’t until I got sick (really sick) that I realized replaying the same scenes 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. (For more details, see my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart.) The irony is that I had the keys to get out; I just didn’t know it for a long time.

IF you are ready to move forward and forgive, keep reading. Forgiveness is a superpower that can change the trajectory of your life if you choose to forgive those who hurt you.

Think you can’t do it? You can do it with the power of the Holy Spirit!

What Does God Say About Forgiving Those Who Hurt You?

Here are five reasons why God says to forgive those who hurt you. These reasons aren’t just random ideas; they are commands from the Bible that will supercharge your life.

Forgiveness doesn’t make sense right now, but trust God on this one (really, everything). He knows what is best for us despite what we feel or think.

1. God requires forgiveness

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

I didn’t realize that forgiveness isn’t just an outward act; it includes all internal feelings, too.

This is where I stumbled…my thought life. I continued to obsess over my pain while trying to hide my anger and bitterness.

That is, until God convicted me of my internal sin a while back. I wasn’t fooling anyone.

He showed me I needed to forgive in my mind and heart. For me, it was a process. I had to keep forgiving until I no longer held a grudge. I started saying,” I forgive. I forgive. I forgive.”

“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).

Here’s the neuroscience:

Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “In fact, some amazing things start happening in our mind, brain and body when we forgive. For example, we grow a part of our brain called the anterior superior temporal sulcus (aSTS), and the more we grow this area, the easier it will become to manage the pain of what happened to us. Forgiveness is a part of our healing journey.”

RELATED: How To Fix An Estranged Relationship with Family and Mend Your Heart

2. God won’t forgive us

What does God say about not forgiving others? Furthermore, should you always forgive those who hurt you?

God says He won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others. (Well, that sucks.)

If you want to be forgiven by God, forgive those who hurt you, no matter how bad the offense. The Bible does not make exceptions. God knows it may take a while to forgive some things, but if you keep working on it, it will be behind you one day.

So what does Jesus say about forgiving others?

Here is a forgive those who hurt you bible verse. It says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” Matthew 6:14 (NIV).

So, yes, you should always forgive those who hurt you. There are no exceptions.

Here’s the science: 

“An ‘8-week psycho-educational training model for forgiveness was provided to 25 patients suffering from stage-1 hypertension. Those who scored high on preintervention anger expression measures showed both reductions in the expression of anger and significant decreases in blood pressure after the 8-week course.’

It is interesting to note that, while the benefits of forgiveness in general were significant, it was the specific sense of feeling forgiven by God that produced the greatest health-related improvement.”

RELATED: Estranged: How to Deal with Difficult Family Members Who Won’t Change

3. Forgiveness is for yourself

Forgiveness is for your well-being. 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. Truthfully, it colored my actions and altered my behavior.

See also  How to Overcome Failure: 5 Steps to Succeed in Life

Eventually, the pain became so great it started affecting my health. It poisoned me until 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. ( I no longer suffer from Crohn’s disease).

Here’s the science:

Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, says, “Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response.

Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”

RELATED: How to Change Your Husband Without Saying a Word

4. Forgiveness releases God to work

When you choose to forgive those who hurt you, you release the other person to God. It means you trust Him to give justice in His way and time.

There is a court of law for crimes committed, but in the end, you still need to release the offense(s) to your Heavenly Father.

Your offender may be off the hook with you, but he is not with God. God won’t forget. I guarantee it.

Spiritually, you remove any blocks between you and God, and also, you do not give Satan a foothold to do damage in your life. It’s two-fold.

Check out this verse on forgiving those who have wronged you; it is one of the best Bible verses about forgiving others.

Romans 12:19 says, “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.”

Here’s the spiritual science:

Joyce Meyer says, “There are still more benefits of forgiveness. Your fellowship with God flows freely when you’re willing to forgive, but it gets blocked by unforgiveness. Forgiveness also keeps Satan from getting an advantage over us (see 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 AMPC).

Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger or give the devil any such foothold or opportunity. Remember that the devil must have a foothold before he can get a stronghold. Do not help Satan torture you. Be quick to forgive.”

RELATED: When Family Members Stop Speaking to You: 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 repeatedly in your mind. All of that self-pity keeps you from moving forward with your life. (This is how you stay a victim.)

Furthermore, unforgiveness 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, it takes away the power of your offender. They no longer control your actions or take up energy or space in your brain.

Here’s the science:

The cost of bitterness is overwhelming. Here is part of a list from Psychology Today that tells what can happen when you harbor anger and bitterness long-term:

  • Prolong your mental and emotional pain—and may even exacerbate it
  • Lead to long-lasting anxiety and/or depression
  • Precipitate vengeful acts that put you at further risk of being hurt or victimized—and possibly engulf you in a never-ending, self-defeating cycle of getting even
  • Prevent you from experiencing the potential joys of living fully in the present—vs. dwelling self-righteously on the past wrongs inflicted on you
  • Create or deepen an attitude of distrust and cynicism—qualities that contribute to hostility and paranoid thinking, as well as an overall sense of pessimism. Such a bleak perspective prompts others to turn away from you
  • Interfere with your cultivating healthy, satisfying relationships, and lead you to doubt, or disparage, your connection to others
  • Compromise or weaken your higher ideals, and adversely impact your personal search for purpose and meaning in life
  • Rob you of vital energy far better employed to help you realize your desires, or achieve goals that you coveted earlier
  • Undermine your physical health. The chronic anger that is bitterness can raise your stress baseline, thereby taxing your immune system
  • Blind you from recognizing your own role, or responsibility, in possibly having been vindictively harmed by another
  • By keeping you in a paradoxical state of “vengeful bondage,” erode your sense of well-being.

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How Do You Forgive Someone Who Hurt You On Purpose?

You may wonder how to forgive those who hurt you on purpose. It is not easy, but it can be done by asking God to help you; it’s a choice.

Feelings come later, way later. For now, choose to do it because it’s the best way to heal.

Here are some suggestions to start the process:

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 must ask 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

I choose to stop thinking about the offense. I picture a 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 to distract me. I love Hillsong Worship/United. It gets my mind off of me and onto Him. FYI: Some people get stuck in this phase because wallowing feels good. Beware!

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 forgive those who hurt you on your own.

It is much easier to forgive and release the pain once you have unscrambled all your feelings.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks is learning how to forgive someone who isn’t sorry. When this is the case, talk to an empty chair, write a letter to the person(then rip it up), or even journal your feelings.

This will help you get all your anger out.

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3. Renew

Renew your thinking. Start telling yourself the truth that you can forgive. 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. It is a slow process of rewiring your brain.

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, and good. (This is a great forgive those who hurt you Bible verse.)

RELATED: How to Stop Negative Self-Talk: 6 Tips to Believe the Truth

4. Release

Release it. Let go of your past hurts. 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, which may be deserved, will not be enough, although this road may need to be taken for crimes committed against you.

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 have difficulty praying for your offender, pray for God to give you the desire to pray.  Hint: Pray whether you feel like it or not. 

This one act will help you to forgive faster.

Make a prayer to forgive others that you can use repeatedly. Ask for God to bless the person and their family and to help you love this person even if they seem unlovable.

While you are at it, pray for God to convict your offender of any wrongdoings and convict you. You may be at fault, too. 

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

How Do You Forgive and Let Go?

You may wonder how to forgive those who hurt you. Forgiveness is not so much for the other person as it is for you! Not forgiving fractures not only your heart but also your relationship with God.

And as we see from the science, it makes you sick.

It’s just not worth it to harbor bitterness.

Forgiveness Checklist

God says to forgive those who hurt you. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Here is a forgiveness checklist to help you examine your heart. Ask yourself these questions. If you say “yes” to any of them, then keep forgiving.

  1. Do you feel angry every time you think of _______?
  2. Do you secretly desire _______  to pay for his or her offense?
  3. Can you pray for ________ without resentment?
  4. Do you tell everyone how _______ hurt you?
  5. Do you talk negatively about ________ when his or her name comes up?
See also  How to Trust God When Life Is Hard and You Feel Anxious

Forgiving those who have wronged you takes time. It is not a “one-and-done” kind of thing. Forgiveness is a process—sometimes a long process. Trust me, it’s worth doing. 

Pin it for late!

how to forgive those who hurt you

How Do You Forgive Someone Who Doesn’t Deserve It?

Perhaps you are even asking, “How do you deal with someone who hurts you emotionally?” Whatever happened, the person who hurt you may not deserve forgiveness or even be a safe person, but God still requires you to forgive and let it go completely.

Notice the recurring theme?

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. It’s just the opposite. God knows every gory detail and will avenge it in His time.

Can you forgive someone if they are not sorry? Yes, because forgiveness doesn’t require repentance or reconciliation.

Don’t confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. They are two very different things.

Forgiveness focuses on the offense, while reconciliation focuses on the relationship. You choose to do forgiveness despite your feelings; it is extended, not earned. It only requires one person–you (plus God).

Reconciliation is different. Reconciliation involves two people committed to working on the relationship; it is a slow process of trust gained over time through repentance and change.

Forgive Those Who Hurt You Bible Verses

Check out how to forgive those who hurt you bible verses.

Looking at them closely, you will notice no exceptions to forgiveness. I know firsthand. I have looked for loopholes. They aren’t there!

Colossians 3:13– Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Psalm 32:5–Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Luke 6:37–“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Ephesians 4:31-32–Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.

Matthew 6:14-15–For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

These are just a few verses about forgiveness. There are many more. God says to forgive those who hurt you, plain and simple. It’s time to do the hard thing and let go so you will be free.

For more information, read Lysa’ TerKeurst’s book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget.

How do you forgive those who hurt you? Comment below.

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Are you experiencing family problems or an 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 (and reconciliation) 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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Julie is a wife, mom, teacher, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, parenting with a touch of humor.

34 Comments

  1. Julie
    I read all of the comments that were sent to you on forgiveness. I am so pride of you . You have brought forgiveness to so many. As i read the testimony of so many people that you have touched i realized how i have hurt you in the pasted when you were a child. I am so sorry. Thank you for forgiving me and renewing our relationship.
    Your earthly father
    Daddy

    as

    • Dad, that is so sweet. I forgave you a while back but am always so glad to renew the words as forgiveness is an ongoing heart matter. I love you and pray for God to bless you and mom as you are living out your later years. I am grateful God has restored what the locusts have eaten.
      Love you!

  2. YES, ITS CAN BE PAINFUL LIFE TO HAVE THE SHADOW OFF ESTRANGEMENT OVER YOUR LIFE…. ITS CRUEL AND THOSE DOING THE ESTRANGEMENT MUST BE VERY HARD HEARTED, BUT YOU MUST AS I LEARNED FORGIVE THEM AND YOURSELF BECAUSE WE TEND TO BEAT YOURSELF UP AND THAT IS NOT WHAT THE lORDS want FOR USE

    • 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.

  3. Forgiveness is hard, but so worth it. Thanks for a wonderful reminder. It’s something I’ve been dealing with lately and that release is truly a great feeling!

    • I agree! It is a weakness of mine, but I really work hard to release things. Otherwise it eats at me. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Yaa Attobrah Reply

    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

    • 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.

  5. Forgiveness is so powerful! For me, it’s all about entrusting myself to God. When I do that, I know that I am loved and treasured by him, so I don’t have to worry about the little slights from others.

    • 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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! ❤

    • 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.

  8. 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.

    • Brandi, you are so right. We make a choice, sometimes daily, to forgive those who have hurt us. Otherwise, we can fall into bitterness. Thanks for your comment.

  9. 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.

    • Yes, I put that quote in this post! Forgiveness is better than harboring bitterness and wallowing in self-pity.

  10. 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!

    • 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.

  11. 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).

    • 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.

  12. 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!

    • 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.

  13. 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!

    • 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.

  14. 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. ❤️

    • 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.

  15. Haddie Lyons Reply

    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!

    • 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.

  16. Shubhanjalee Reply

    extacly,,you are very right..thanks for relating that we should forgive as learnt from the almighty

    • 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.

  17. 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.

    • 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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