Try as we might, none of us are perfect. We all fall short (Romans 3:23). Forgiveness is something we all need. It’s also something we need to learn to show toward others who hurt or offend us. Forgiveness is a voluntary choice we make and the truth is we don’t always feel like forgiving someone. It may help, depending on the offense, to remember that we’ve needed forgiveness. But, it’s not always that simple. Not all hurts bleed the same amount. Some wounds burn more deeply than others. In time, with practice, we can learn to be better at forgiveness. We can also get better at not causing any new aches and pains and asking others to forgive us promptly when we mess up.
When it comes to forgiveness, God set the standard for us. Through Christ, God showered us with grace and mercy (Romans 5:8). Paying our debt cost God more than we can ever fathom. Yet, thankfully for us, He was willing. And that, I believe, is the key to cultivating a forgiving heart—willingness. Where forgiveness is concerned, we must be willing to ask for it and we must be willing to show it.
Here are 7 verses that share what Scripture has to teach us on the subject of forgiveness:
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:8-12 (ESV)
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6 (ESV)
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Jeremiah 31:34 (ESV)
So he told them this parable: What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:3-7 (ESV)
To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Acts 10:43 (ESV)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…
Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
Lord, help me cultivate a heart of forgiveness and be humble enough to ask for forgiveness when I fall short and cause someone hurt or pain. While it is not always easy to forgive or be forgiven, You have shown us the ultimate standard of forgiveness in giving us Your Son, so that all who believe might be saved. You did this out of Your love for us. May we love others well so that we too may be able to forgive and be forgiven. In His name we pray. Amen.