Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19 NIV)
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV)
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 NIV)
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)
Forgiving someone who has hurt you can be a difficult thing to do. But God commands us to forgive one another, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you,” (Colossians 3:13). Focusing on all God has done for us, all he has forgiven us, and the price Jesus has already paid for all of our sins is an important first step in being able to forgive another person. Remember John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus died on the cross so that my sins and everyone’s sins could be forgiven.
Psalm 103:8-12 says, The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
We may have difficulty forgiving someone who has hurt us, or has hurt our loved ones, because we may not “feel” like forgiving that person. Or perhaps we have forgiven someone, yet later we discover we need to forgive that person again, or God reveals to us that we did not fully forgive that person. Forgiving someone is an act of our will, an act of obedience to God’s word and to God’s desire for our lives. It involves us asking for forgiveness from God, and from other people, but it does not depend on our feelings. Sometimes it is ourselves we need to forgive. Forgiving yourself and others may involve a process over time, but it does not depend on a “feeling of forgiveness”.
A helpful exercise might be to write out the offense that you need to forgive, pray about it, ask God to forgive you, and then burn the paper, or shred the paper, and leave the matter in God’s hands.
This article, Guideposts Classics: Corrie ten Boom on Forgiveness, is about Corrie Ten Boom, a holocaust concentration camp survivor, who illustrates forgiving her captor, as an act of obedience to God.