Steps to Forgive Those Who’ve Hurt You (Forgiveness Part 1)

Steve Behlke   -  

In a world marked by grudges, bitterness, and the pursuit of personal justice, the life and teachings of Jesus our Lord remind us of a better way and a higher calling: forgiveness. The call to forgive is integral to our faith and discipleship to Jesus.

Bear with one another, and forgive each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so should you. (Colossians 3:13) 

This emphasizes God’s command to bear with those who bug us and forgive those who hurt us,  just as the Lord forgave us.

How did Jesus forgive you? Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross, provided the ultimate act of forgiveness, paying off the debt you owed and offering you reconciliation and a restored relationship with God.

Jesus forgave you by paying off the debt you owed and offering you reconciliation and a restored relationship with God.

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. (1 Peter 2:24)

Forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing the wrong behavior.

It’s important to note that forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing the wrong behavior. Rather, it involves entrusting the situation to God’s justice (1 Peter 2:23) and extending grace and love to the offender, even when they don’t deserve it. And they don’t deserve it, that’s why we need to forgive them.  

Hard as it is, forgiving others is a powerful and Christ-reflecting act. It goes beyond cultural norms that demand justice and retribution. By forgiving others, we honor Christ, release ourselves from the pain of past hurts, and offer hope, healing, and love to the person who has wronged us.

Steps to forgiving those who have hurt you

If you have been hurt or mistreated, here are a few steps to finding freedom through forgiveness:

Take it to God: Acknowledge your pain before God. Share your hurt, trusting Him for healing. Don’t dismiss the hurt; it’s the first step to forgiveness and healing. Also, don’t expect the hurt to disappear. It may not go away completely, but it need not overwhelm or paralyze you when you think of it. That’s part of healing.

Seek God’s perspective: Read His Word, seek counsel from godly friends, and remind yourself of the gospel and your identity in Christ. Whatever you want to do in your hurt and anger, seek what God wants you to do and why. Don’t ignore their actions, but trust Jesus with them. This, too, is part of healing, the ability to ground yourself in God’s heart and see it from God’s perspective.

This will help you see the situation from His perspective and understand His desire for forgiveness. 

Choose to forgive: With the healing and love of God, make the choice to forgive the person who hurt you. Acknowledge the pain but trust Jesus with it. Trust God to fulfill justice and release any desire for revenge or control.  

Communicate forgiveness if possible: Once you have gone through the process of healing and forgiveness, if appropriate and safe, communicate your forgiveness to the person who hurt you. However, it’s important to note that their response may not always be immediate acceptance or repentance. Regardless of their reaction, continue to abide in God’s love and forgive them, even if it means maintaining distance or setting boundaries for your own well-being.

It would be awesome if they repent, acknowledge their actions, and seek to regain your trust. See God’s hand in this and be open to trusting them again.

If they do not repent, you are under no obligation to trust them in this area.

What if they don’t repent? If they do not repent, you are under no obligation to trust them in this area. Abide in God’s love and continue to forgive them. Yet, some situations require maintaining distance or setting limits for one’s safety and well-being.

Forgiveness is not really optional but rather an integral part of our faith. Just as Jesus forgave us, we are to forgive others, even when it’s entirely undeserved. Hard as it is, this is a process to be able to forgive. We’ll talk more about this in upcoming posts.