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How to Forgive: Four Thoughts to Help You Forgive Others

how to forgive man and woman hugging forgiving others

We’ve all been hurt by someone and it’s not easy to forgive. But the Bible tells us that it needs to happen. Here are four thoughts to help you on the road to forgiveness.


Do you need to forgive someone? It can be a difficult process, but as Christians, it’s something that we’re commanded to do. Whatever your situation, here are four thoughts on how to forgive others.

Remember that God has forgiven you

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

When forgiving someone, remember that God forgave you first. Therefore, the Bible tells us we are to forgive others as God in Christ forgave us. We are called to follow Christ’s example of forgiveness – but it can be difficult. Someone may have hurt us deeply. One way to put things into perspective is by thinking about all the things that God has forgiven us for. We have each hurt God through our sin, but he is always willing to forgive. If God can forgive us for what we have done, can’t we extend that same forgiveness to someone else?

Giving and receiving forgiveness

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

In the verse above, Jesus tells us plainly that if we don’t extend forgiveness to others, it won’t be extended to us. This is re-emphasized in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). Jesus tells the story of a servant whose master forgave a great debt. But afterward, the servant would not forgive a much smaller debt that was owed to him by another – an unmerciful act for which the master punished him. Similarly, we’ve been shown incredible mercy by God. So, that mercy should transform us and enable us to extend it to others, even those who have hurt us.


You can only control yourself

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV)

The Bible stresses the importance of forgiving others and seeking forgiveness. We are told to reconcile with those who have something against us. Because of this, we can’t let hurt and anger keep us from forgiveness. Holding onto that pain not only prevents us from making things right with others, it can also keep us from experiencing full fellowship with God. But what if the person who hurt you isn’t seeking forgiveness? Ultimately, the only people we can control is ourselves and we can still honor God by choosing to forgive, whether or not it’s acknowledged or accepted by the other party.

This can only be done with God’s help

It may still seem that someone or something in your life is impossible to forgive. And you may be right if you’re trying to do it through your strength alone. Fortunately, you are not alone. Through God, forgiveness is possible. That doesn’t mean it will happen instantly and it doesn’t mean it will be easy. But if you wholeheartedly ask God to help you forgive someone, he will give you the strength to do so.


How to forgive others in three practical steps

  1. Start by praying for that person. Pray for their good. Ask God to help you love them as He loves them. It’s hard to be quite as angry with someone who you are praying for on a consistent basis.
  2. Ask God to help you. Come to a place where you desire to forgive the person who hurt you, then ask God to give you the strength to do so.
  3. Try, try, and try again. You may not feel very forgiving the first time you pray for them, or you may find that your thoughts drift back to anger or hurt. However, don’t be discouraged. This is completely natural and can be part of the process. Think of it as building your “forgiveness muscle” – it takes time. Keep at it and, eventually, God will help you truly forgive those who have hurt you.

Joseph’s example of forgiveness

In the Gospels, Jesus offers the greatest example of forgiveness that the world has seen. For another biblical example of forgiveness, check out the story of Joseph found in Genesis. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, but God transformed their evil act and used it for good. It culminates in a powerful moment of reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers.

Take some time to read through those chapters and see how Joseph came to forgive those who had wronged him. What sticks out to you? Do you believe that God could take a hurt you feel and use it to bring about His goodness?

About the Author


Bret Eckelberry

Bret Eckelberry

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Please enter your area code, followed by your phone number, mobile phone preferred. Please use numbers only, no dashes or other separators.

*By signing this form I am acknowledging that I am 13 or older.