If you have ever found it difficult to forgive someone, you are not alone.
Though the Bible talks about the necessity of forgiveness, it never says that extending forgiveness to those who have deeply wronged you is easy.
Forgiving is certainly not natural to our human nature. We like to hold a grudge and see them pay for how they treated us.
But this is not how the Bible teaches us to forgive.
So how does the Bible say that we ought to forgive? Here are seven verses about how we are to forgive:
First, the Bible says that we are to forgive prayerfully in Matthew 5:44.
In this passage, Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44, ESV).
If forgiveness is not our natural reaction when we are wronged, then we need the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to forgive despite the deep pain we may feel.
This verse also tells us that we are to love our enemies. When you begin deeply and intently praying for someone, you will find that it is challenging to hate them. In fact, you might even say that you love them. Part of loving someone is forgiving their wrongs.
Prayerful forgiveness completely changes your attitudes and feelings toward those that have wronged you and creates an opportunity for you to love as Christ loves.
Second, the Bible says that we are to forgive continually in Matthew 18:21-22.
In this passage, Peter beings by asking Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21, ESV). Jesus responds, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22, ESV).
We are often required to extend forgiveness to the same person over and over again. The Bible teaches that this is good and is how we ought to forgive.
Think about how many times the Lord has forgiven you. That is how you are to forgive others.
Third, the Bible says that we are to forgive kindly in Romans 12:14.
In this verse, Paul says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Romans 12:14, ESV).
Forgiveness requires a change in attitude toward those who have wronged you. This begins with how you speak of them.
When we are wronged, we should not slander our offender, but speak kindly of them to others.
Fourth, the Bible says that we are to forgive completely in Proverbs 24:17.
This passage says, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.”(Proverbs 24:17, ESV).
Forgiving completely means holding no ill feelings toward those who wrong us. This means that when they are hurting, we do not gloat and rejoice in their pain. When we truly forgive them, all feelings of resentment are let go and we should be willing to help our hurting offender as much as we can.
Fifth, the Bible says that we are to forgive correspondently in Luke 6:31.
Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31, ESV).
Forgive as you wish others would forgive you. This concept is simple, yet we still struggle to practice it. Extend the same grace to others that you want to receive.
Sixth, the Bible says that we are to forgive humbly in Colossians 3:13.
Paul writes, “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13, ESV).
The Lord has forgiven us so much. None of us is better or worse than the other. This is how we forgive humbly.
Remember how much grace and forgiveness the Lord gave you and extend that same grace and forgiveness to those that wrong you.
Lastly, the Bible says that we are to forgive forgetfully in Isaiah 43:18.
This passage says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.” (Isaiah 43:18, ESV).
We are not to hold grudges and we are certainly not to hold onto the thing we claim to be forgiving. When we forgive others, we should let those things go and not hold them against our offender. We need to start anew with them, and not let our past hurts hinder our current relationship.
The Bible says that forgiveness is necessary, but not that it will be easy. It is only by the divine strength and might of the Holy Spirit that we are able to truly forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Who do you need to forgive today? Ask the Lord for strength to forgive them prayerfully, continually, kindly, completely, correspondingly, humbly, and forgetfully.