More Like Jesus: Reflections on Forgiveness

August 18, 2020

by Peter Amsterdam

Forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity. Jesus was crucified and died on the cross so that we could be forgiven for our sins. Scripture teaches that as believers we are to reflect Jesus’s sacrifice by forgiving those who have hurt us.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.1

We are called to both forgive others who have wronged us and to ask forgiveness of those we have harmed or wronged. Following are quotations on forgiveness which add to what was previously written on this topic in the More Like Jesus series.2

“How can you learn to forgive others? The first step is to understand what it cost Jesus Christ to forgive you. You and I don’t deserve God’s forgiveness—but because God loves us, Christ gave His life for us. Accept His forgiveness today, and then ask Him to help you forgive others the same way He has forgiven you—freely and fully.”—Billy Graham

“Forgiveness isn’t approving what happened. It’s choosing to rise above it.”—Robin Sharma

“Without forgiveness, life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.”—Roberto Assagioli

“Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.”—Cherie Carter-Scott

“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.”—H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero

“We cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds and nursing old grudges.”—T. D. Jakes

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”—C. S. Lewis

“If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.”—Mother Teresa

“You cannot forgive just once, forgiveness is a daily practice.”—Sonia Rumzi

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”—Ruth Bell Graham

“When you’ve experienced grace and you feel like you’ve been forgiven, you’re a lot more forgiving of other people. You’re a lot more gracious to others.”—Rick Warren

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”—Lewis B. Smedes

“Blame keeps wounds open. Only forgiveness heals.”—Thomas S. Monson

“You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’”—Maya Angelou

“Let us forgive each other—only then will we live in peace.”—Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love.”—Gary Chapman

“Forgiveness should start now. Putting off forgiving only deepens the wound. Clinging to bitterness postpones happiness. Life is short, time is fleeting. Today is the day to forgive.”—Wilferd Peterson

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”—Paul Boese

“Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.”—Billy Graham

“Forgiveness is not a feeling—it’s a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God. It’s a quality decision that won’t be easy and it may take time to get through the process, depending on the severity of the offense.”—Joyce Meyer

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past—but you sure do change the future.”—Bernard Meltzer

“We don’t forgive people by pretending they didn’t do bad things to us, or by just trying to forget what they did. That wouldn’t be honest—and in any case, it’s usually not possible. Instead, forgiveness is a deliberate act—a definite decision to let go of our anger and hatred (and whatever else is bottled up inside of us because of what someone did), and to love them despite what they did. Is that easy to do? No—but with God’s help it is possible.”—Billy Graham

“There are a lot of bad things in life that are evil. Not everything that happens in this world is God’s will, but that’s why we need God in our lives. So forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened, it’s about finding what good came out of it.”—Rick Warren

“The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.”—William Blake

“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.”—Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”—Maya Angelou

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”—Marianne Williamson

“As long as you live on earth, you won’t see the end of injustices. Yet God desires for you to let go of injustices and hold on to His grace. Only He can give you the power to forgive those who have hurt you the deepest.”—Paul Chappell

“One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before you go to bed.”—Bernard Baruch

“They caused the first wound, but you are causing the rest; this is what not forgiving does. They got it started, but you keep it going. Forgive and let it go, or it will eat you alive. You think they made you feel this way, but when you won’t forgive, you are the one inflicting the pain on yourself.”—Bryant McGill

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”—Anne Lamott

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

“The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.”—Louise Hay

“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy rent-free space in your mind.”—Isabelle Holland

“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.”—Alan Paton

“It’s important to recognize that forgiveness is more than mere words; it’s a heart attitude that induces a spiritual transformation.”—Victoria Osteen

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”—Unknown

“Forgiveness is God’s command.”—Martin Luther

“Never forget the nine most important words of any family—I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me.”—H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“One forgives to the degree that one loves.”—Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”—Lewis B. Smedes

“He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven.”—Unknown

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”—Corrie ten Boom

“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.”—William Arthur Ward

“Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.”—Unknown

“Forgiveness is like this: a room can be dank because you have closed the windows, you’ve closed the curtains. But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside. In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart.”—Desmond Tutu

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.”—T. D. Jakes

“Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”—Unknown

“A broken friendship that is mended through forgiveness can be even stronger than it once was.”—Stephen Richards

“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note—torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.”—Henry Ward Beecher

“Forgiveness has an uncanny way of bringing incredible good out of incredibly bad situations.”—Paul J. Meyer

“Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, it means choosing to remember love instead.”—Kyle Gray

“Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours.”—James E. Faust

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

“Forgiveness is not that stripe which says, ‘I will forgive, but not forget.’ It is not to bury the hatchet with the handle sticking out of the ground, so you can grasp it the minute you want it.”—Dwight L. Moody

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”—Catherine Ponder

“Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.”—Edwin Hubbell Chapin

“The blood of Christ covers all of our sins, but each of us must do personal business with God in order to experience his forgiveness.”—Lewis B. Smedes

“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart ... forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.”—Hannah More

“Forgive others as quickly as you expect God to forgive you.”—Unknown

“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.”—Tyler Perry

“God forgives us ... who am I not to forgive?”—Alan Paton

“Be gracious to others and forgive those who’ve hurt you because God has been gracious to you. You will never have to forgive anyone else more than Jesus Christ has already forgiven you. Remember that you haven’t always gotten what you deserved, either. God has been gracious with you. Now choose to be gracious with others.”—Rick Warren

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”—Marvin J. Ashton