What Is Forgiveness – Bible

What does the Bible Say about Forgiveness?


We all struggle with Forgiveness at sometime in our life. So, what does the Bible say about forgiveness? 

You hear a certain name and it brings back a flood of memories…

You think back to a time when some hurt you deeply… 

Many when we are hurt two options come to mind. Option one: Never speak to the person again. Option two: Revenge. What can I do to get even.  

Have you ever thought or even prayed, I hope they have a flat tire or something along those lines?

Forgiveness may be the most misused, misapplied, and misunderstood quality in our culture. We think we know what forgiveness is all about, but we really don’t. 


Before we talk about what forgiveness really is, has have to talk about what it is not.


The Bible says, Forgiveness in not conditional. 


In other words, it is not based on somebody else’s response. Real forgiveness is unconditional. It is not earned. It is not deserved. It is not bargained for. It is not based on some promise that you will never do it again. 

Luke 23:34 – Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”  

Nobody had asked for it.  Nobody had said, “Please forgive me, Jesus, for what we are doing to you.” He just offered it. He took the initiative. 

Jesus is the perfect example of what the Bible teaches about Forgiveness.  

Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. 


When somebody asks for your forgiveness, you actually cheapen it if you say, “It’s no big deal. It really didn’t hurt.” If it wasn’t a big deal, you don’t need forgiveness and you don’t need to offer it.

Forgiveness is only for the big stuff. You don’t use it for slights that are just minor issues. If something really requires forgiveness, then you should not minimize it when somebody asks you for forgiveness. Don’t say it wasn’t a big deal. It was a big deal! If it wasn’t a big deal, just say, “You don’t need to ask forgiveness.” But if it is a big deal, then you need to admit it.


Forgiveness in not forgetting what happened.  

Name me one thing that your sibling did to wrong you when you were a kid. See you have not forgotten. I remember my sister jumping on the bed and then jumping off and grabbing my hair and pulling me to the ground. Then she took off running to my Grandmother and said Matthew is trying to hit me! She had a point I was trying to hit her after what she had dome. Needless to say that I was mad. We can laugh about it now but I still have not forgotten it. 


Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened but it is choosing not to dwell on it. 

Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross, was reminded by a friend of an especially cruel thing that somebody had done to her years before. Barton acted like she didn’t remember it, and the friend asked, “Don’t you remember?” Her famous reply was, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.” 

Un-forgiveness will keep you stuck in the past. 

1 Corinthians 13:5b CEV – Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do” 


Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without changes. 

I want to be very careful with this one…Because we use it as an excuse not to forgive. We can use it to nitpick. We can use it to justify our actions.  

Forgiveness takes one person reconciliation takes two people. With God’s help, I have the power to forgive anything. That doesn’t mean that I’m willing to forgive anything or that it will be easy.  

My capacity to forgive does not depend on anyone else’s behavior or permission.


So what is forgiveness in the Bible…


Recognize no one is perfect.

Why do we hold people to standard that are unreasonable? When we hate somebody, we tend to lose our perspective about that person.  

When we’re filled with resentment, bitterness and hurt, we tend to dehumanize the offender. We treat them like an animal.


Relinquish you right to get even

This is the heart of forgiveness.  

The Bible says, “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it” (Romans 12:19a TLB).  

They may deserve for you to retaliate, but you must commit not to do so.  

It’s not fair, but it’s healthy. This IS NOT a one-time decision but a daily one that  

It takes courage to build a bridge with someone you hate. 


Respond to the Evil with good. 


Realize Forgiveness is a choice.


Choosing not to forgive is saying God can’t change that person.

Do we root for changed lives…Or do we root for people to fail. 

As long as you continue to focus on the person who has hurt you, that person controls you. In fact, you can take it a step further. If you don’t release your offender, you will begin to resemble your offender.


Real forgiveness in unconditional. 


Jesus shows us this. 

Forgiveness in the Bible: 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness Matthew 5:23-24 

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 5:44

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Ephesians 4:32  

Whenever you’re resentful, it always hurts you more than the person you’re bitter against. In fact, while you’re still worrying about something that happened years ago, the other person has forgotten about it! 

Your past is in the past, and it can’t hurt you any more unless you hold on to it.

Take a minute to do this little quiz by deciding if each statement is true or false.

1. A person should not be forgiven until asking for it.

2. Forgiving includes minimizing the offense and the pain caused.

3. Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.

4. You haven’t really forgiven until you’ve forgotten the offense.

5. When you see somebody hurt, it is your duty to forgive the offender.

When you read forgiveness in the Bible you see what God has to say about forgiveness, you discover that all five of those statements are false. How did you do?

First, real forgiveness is unconditional. There’s no attachment to it. You don’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You don’t bargain for it. Forgiveness is not based on a promise to never do it again. You offer it whether someone asks for it or not.

When Jesus stretched out his hands on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV), 

Nobody had asked for it. Nobody had said, “Please forgive me, Jesus, for what they’re doing to you.” He just offered it. He took the initiative.

Who do you need to forgive today?

Put into practice what the Bible says about forgiveness.