16 Bible verses on forgiving someone who has hurt you. When you are angry at others, it is hard to forgive. These scriptures will help you to see how much God loves you and how important it is to forgive.
In my post called 12 Bible Verses to Overcome Anger & Resentment, I wrote that we need to pray for, forgive, and love the person we're angry at, and a reader recently called me out on that statement.
I cannot believe that God will come after me for taking this vile pig to court to make sure all he has done illegally comes to light. I cannot believe that God wants me to love and treat with respect some pig who is lying about me, trashing me to try and gain custody. And to be honest, if that’s how God works, than maybe I should no longer be a Christian, because my children (I have 5, & all are amazing, loving, God-fearing human beings.) are #1 and there’s no way in hell I will let my ex get away with all he has done to me and my children.
I wrote back by email, but I thought it was worth sharing on the blog (with her permission) because maybe my words in that other post will have landed on other readers in the same raw way.
God offers unconditional love and forgiveness.
First, let me be clear about something. God will never "come after you" in response to something you have done. God loves you and wants the best for you, always and forever, no matter whether you act with love or hate. Since you are a Christian, there is nothing you could ever do to make God hate you or punish you or come after you with vengeance.
"And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins." (spoken by the LORD) – Hebrews 8:12 (NLT)
He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. – Ephesians 1:7-8 (NLT)
“Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in Him is made right in God’s sight." – Acts 13:38 (NLT)
When Jesus came to earth and died on the cross, He died for your sins. All you have to do is confess your sins to God, and you will be forgiven. He has forgiven all the sins you've ever committed, and all the sins you will ever commit. God knows your heart, and He loves you and wants you to be with Him no matter what.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. – 1 John 1:9-10 (NLT)
And [Jesus] said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’" – Luke 24:46-47 (NLT)
Now, this is not to say that it's okay to go on sinning. It's not. Once God has made you aware of your sins, He says you need to repent, to ask His forgiveness, and to stop committing that sin. This includes being ruled by anger which is a sin according to the Bible verses I cited in the other post.
So there's the crux of it. Once you're aware that your anger is causing you to sin, you have to find a way to get rid of it.
God is the Heavenly Father.
There is a very good reason that God is called the Heavenly Father. It's because His love is like the love of an earthly parent but even better and more perfect. Just like you would do anything for your children, just like you would forgive anything your children could ever do, just like you love your children no matter what, that's how God feels about you.
The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust. – Psalm 103:13-14 (NLT)
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him? – Matthew 7:11 (NLT)
But what about the person who hurt you?
I wrote in the other post that you need to forgive the person you are angry with, and I stand by that statement. (But please don't stop reading!)
When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, He gave them the Lord's Prayer. Part of that prayer, spoken by Jesus Himself, reads:
"and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us." – Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
Right after that, Jesus says this:
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." – Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
I personally find this a little bit confusing because it says in 1 John 1:9-10 and Luke 24:46-47 that all your sins are forgiven, but then it also says that you will not be forgiven if you don't forgive others. There are people way smarter than me who debate these points, and I'm not going to do that here, but I think that, if Jesus thought it was important enough to talk about, I think it's worth consideration.
The only explanation that I can come up with to make sense of the seeming contradiction above is that maybe forgiving others is part of repentance.
HOWEVER, and this is a big point, forgiveness is not the same as erasing the crime of the other person.
God holds people accountable.
I don’t think you are wrong to want the other person to be held accountable for his actions. The Bible is very clear about people being held responsible for their actions.
For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. And God did not spare the ancient world — except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority. – 2 Peter 2: 4-10 (NLT)
You can trust God to fight for you.
In Exodus, God outlines all sorts of laws (called the Laws of Moses because He told them to Moses to tell to the people of Israel) and their punishments. Some of the punishments were as serious as death, and others, such as the one below, required repayment to the person who was wronged.
If someone steals an ox or sheep and then kills or sells it, the thief must pay back five oxen for each ox stolen, and four sheep for each sheep stolen. – Exodus 22:1
I think this is important because the law is valued by God. He holds people, even angels and believers, accountable to the law, and it is your duty to see that the law is followed. By this, I mean that if the person who hurt you is guilty of breaking the law, as the original reader above said, I think you should absolutely cooperate with the courts and ensure that the law breaking is punished. However, it is not your job to determine the punishment or to seek vengeance. That is up to the police, the courts, and to God.
Suppose there is a dispute between two people who both claim to own a particular ox, donkey, sheep, article of clothing, or any lost property. Both parties must come before the judges, and the person whom the judges declare guilty must pay double compensation to the other. – Exodus 22:9
I think this next verse can be applied both to you and to the person who hurt you. That person has shown no mercy to you, and God will not show him mercy. However, his punishment is not for you to decide; that is up to God.
The other side of the verse is that if you show mercy to the person who hurt you, God will show you mercy in return.
There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. – James 2:13 (NLT)
I think where we have to be careful is in our own motives. Are you acting to protect yourself and your family and to hold that other person accountable or are you acting out of hate and revenge? It may take some soul searching for you to figure this out, but it is a very important distinction. If you are acting out of hate and a sense of revenge, you are wrong in the eyes of God.
Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone — especially to those in the family of faith. – Galatians 6:7-10 (NLT)
What if the other person's "crime" is not illegal but rather just a crime of a relationship? What then?
I think in that case, you still have to protect yourself and hold the other person accountable. Forgive but don't forget. Set boundaries so that the person can't hurt you again. Hold the person at arm's length so that he no longer has access to your heart.
One thing I do know for sure is that if you can forgive the person who hurt you, even if only for your own benefit, you will be better off in the long run. It is easy for me to say because I am a champion grudge holder, but holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. Hold the person accountable, do what needs to be done to protect yourself and your family, and let God deal with the rest. I think that’s the only way to find your way out of the anger that is consuming you right now.
Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin. – Acts 8:22-23 (NIV)
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy.
So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. – Ephesians 4:17-27 (NLT)
Above all, I pray that you cling to your faith in God even through this very difficult time. God didn’t create this situation. Satan created it, but God will make it all work out eventually. It may take time and patience, but it will all work out in the end.
Here are more Bible verses that may be helpful to you:
- 12 Bible Verses to Overcome Anger & Resentment
- 13 Bible Verses to Overcome Disappointment
- 23 Bible Verses on Loneliness
- 18 Encouraging Bible Verses to Overcome Overwhelm
- 18 Bible Verses to Overcome Overthinking